Samford picked up a late 2014 commitment on Monday as the Bulldogs landed Paul VI (Va.) guard Evan Taylor.
Taylor announced the commitment on his Twitter and the 6-foot-4 guard was the only senior last season for Paul VI, which was one of the best high school basketball teams in the country last season. Paul VI finished the season 31-6 and won the WCAC championship, the VISAA D1 State championship, and the ACIT championship and was nationally ranked at the end of the year.
A do-it-all guard that can handle, pass and defend, Taylor is a nice late addition for Samford because he’s capable of stepping in and doing multiple things for the Bulldogs. He’s a bit of a late-bloomer as Taylor only averaged 3.5 points per game as a junior before stepping up his play to average nearly double-figures as a senior.
Samford finished 13-20 last season and could use an influx of talent next season. Getting a player from a winning program like Taylor should help a bit in that equation.
Taylor joins Wallace State Community College point guard Marcus Johnson, Barton Community College guard Darius Gibson and high school wings Gerald Smith and Jamal Shabazz in Samford’s 2014 class.
Former Samford forward Tim Williams has become highly sought-after since announcing he would transfer. A pair of visits have been set up for next week while several other programs remain in pursuit of the mid-major forward.
On June 16-17, Williams will visit New Mexico. A trip to Vanderbilt will immediately follow, according to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.
Williams, the SoCon Freshmen of the Year in 2013, averaged 17.3 points and 7.6 boards per game, shooting 60 percent from the field as a sophomore. In late May, he decided to leave the Bulldogs. Since then, Dayton and Marquette have both expressed interest in Williams, in addition to the Lobos and Commodores.
Vanderbilt finished under .500 for the second straight season, and could very well be in for another down year in 2014-2015. However, the Commodores have a talented recruiting class to work with along with rising sophomore big man Damian Jones. Vanderbilt already secured a commitment from Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler earlier this spring.
New Mexico focused on the front court with its 2014 recruiting class, needing to fill voids left by Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk. The 2015 recruiting class currently consists three guards, which does not include Butler transfer Elijah Brown.
Williams will have two years of eligibility after he sits out the 2014-2015 season, due to NCAA transfer rules.
Samford moved quickly in replacing former head coach Bennie Seltzer, as the program hired assistant coach and former Kentucky star Scott Padgett on Friday.
The school announced the hiring of Padgett in a release to replace Seltzer, who is out after two seasons at the helm.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to be the head coach at Samford University and to coach these outstanding young men,” said Padgett in the release. “This program is going to be all about our players; former, current and future. It’s going to be about promoting the mission of this great university and helping these young men in their academic, athletic and spiritual growth.”
Padgett helped Kentucky to a 1997 NCAA title game and a 1998 NCAA championship and he played for two very good coaches in Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith. Padgett was also a NBA first-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 1999. The 38-year-old Padgett has also worked at Kentucky under John Calipari and as an assistant coach under Steve Masiello at Manhattan.
“We’re going to play an exciting brand of basketball here at Samford, similar to the style I played under Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith at the University of Kentucky,” Padgett said in the release. “We are going to press, get up and down the court for 40 minutes and wear down the opposition. It’s going to be a playing style that recruits, current players and fans will love.”
Samford sounds like they at least have a plan in place, but it will be tough to replace recently departed transfer Tim Williams.