DENTON, Texas – T.J. Taylor has been waiting on this day for a long time. Three years after leaving Denison High School as their all-time leading scorer, and four colleges later, Taylor’s unlikely path has him set to finally suit up for his hometown Mean Green on Friday night against Oklahoma City at 7 p.m.
In 112 career high school games over four seasons, Taylor averaged 23.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the Yellow Jackets. Those accolades earned him three Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-State selections, and made him a national top 100 recruit. As you could imagine, college coaches across the country swooned over the 6-3 guard.
According to Rivals.com, Taylor had scholarship offers from Arizona State, Iowa State, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Marquette. Those last two schools, Oklahoma and Marquette, would actually sign Taylor and get him on campus.
At OU, a preseason concussion held him out of competition for the entire 2010-11 season, and the following spring he decided to take his talents to Paris Junior College. In the year at Paris, Taylor earned third-team NJCAA All-America honors and reignited the recruiting frenzy that he experienced in high school.
Buzz Williams, head coach at Marquette, and his top assistant, Tony Benford, were in on Taylor since his Denison days. The pair sold Taylor on playing for the Golden Eagles, but he wouldn’t spend much time in Milwaukee.
Benford had been named the head coach at North Texas, which is just an hour drive from Denison, and the prospects of coming home was a little too much for Taylor. He followed Benford to Denton, ending a three-year saga that finds Taylor just 60 miles from home.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Taylor sat out the 2012-13 season, and underwent shoulder surgery that must have made the season seem brutally long. But Friday at the Super Pit, Taylor will wear a North Texas jersey and hopefully make the journey worthwhile.