Against All Odds: Former Mott All-American John Taylor shoots for the NBA
By Eric Woodyard
FLINT, MI - Ready or not, here John Taylor comes.
After a record-breaking college basketball career, Chi-Town's finest is giving it a shot at professional basketball - preferably in the National Basketball Association. The odds are definitely stacked against the 6-foot-1 guard to actually breakthrough in the pro ranks but he doesn't view betting on his future as a risky gamble.
Especially after all that he's accomplished in his last two college seasons at Mott Community College and California's Fresno Pacific University, where he dominated the opposition.
"I felt like I've done everything that I could possibly do in college basketball and I felt like in order for me to get better I have to play against guys that's better than me and play with elite guys so I can prove that I'm an elite player and not that I can just take over on the lower level," said Taylor, who led MCC to a JUCO national title in 2012. "I can do it at a higher level, too.
"I just decided to enter the draft to prove that I'm as good as people think I am."
The draft process for Taylor has been interesting.
He has worked out with scouts from the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers but his agent Brian Brundage of Worldwide Career Management (WCM) has found it challenging to generate a strong buzz for Taylor to NBA teams to really sell his client.
"At this point we've had a challenge to get teams to take note of what John is capable of doing," Brundage said. "Everybody has a certain mindset of what they think about the players that they're scouting like with the mock draft list so that's really been the toughest thing is getting them to take the blinders off and pay attention to a talent like John's."
If Taylor doesn't hear his name called June 27 in Brooklyn, New York, Brundage is still exploring every option available for his client including overseas and the NBA Development League. The D-League's Fort Wayne Mad Ants have shown interest and Taylor is scheduled to take part in other pro camps.
Although Taylor did average a school-record 27.5 points per game, set the single-season scoring record (825) andbecome the first 50-point scorer at Fresno Pacific University as a junior, FPU is still relatively unknown in comparison to the big name programs. FPU competes in an NCAA Division II conference so they don't receive the major publicity like other big-time colleges and Brundage constantly finds himself having to educate pro teams on Taylor's game.
When Taylor entered his name in the 2013 NBA Draft as one of the 77 early entrants May 1 his decision shocked his former Mott coach Steve Schmidt. He learned the news while out of state and didn't know how to react initially. He never doubted Taylor's skills to compete on that level but he's not blind to the politics of the process.
Knowing that, Schmidt says he would've advised Taylor to return for his senior year at Fresno Pacific to earn his college degree but being mindful of his past issues in the classroom the legendary Bears coach understood his situation. Academics are what blocked Taylor from playing Division I basketball after his All-American season at MCC. Taylor also has a one-year-old son John Taylor Jr. to provide for.
"I do understand the decision being around John and knowing how he doesn't really like school," Schmidt said. "I know John is undersized but he's tough. John has got the talent but realistically a lot of people are taking up spots on some of these rosters that are older with contract obligations."
Schmidt has frequently been in contact with Taylor since the decision and was used as reference for a Brooklyn Nets scout on his behalf. That conversation went great, according to Schmidt, and he's pulling for Taylor to get a NBA shot.
If not, Schmidt is confident that Taylor will get paid to play basketball somewhere.
"There's no doubt in my mind that he's going to be playing basketball and making money whether it's in the NBA or overseas," Schmidt said. "He's that talented and the thing that sets him apart from a lot of players that I've coached is his confidence. He's just very determined."
Taylor is staying sharp and adding muscle to his frame with position coach Art Kimber in Schererville, Indiana through Next Level Athletics. He's away from home trying to stay focused while he lives with a host family provided by WCM and doing whatever it takes to get better. His fate will be determined in the upcoming weeks.
"I'm just going hard and doing the things I know how to do," Taylor said. "Putting on weight and getting stronger is my main focus."
Former Mott star Doug Anderson and Glen Rice Jr. are two other players with Flint ties that are hoping to get drafted this year.