Tyshawn Taylor isn’t going to be showing up on many preseason all-american teams.
He didn’t make the BIAH list of Top 25 point guards in the country, and he barely made the list of Top 140 players in the country. Kansas fans will call those rankings snubs, and based on raw ability, that is probably true. Anyone that saw Taylor go for 20 points, five assists and four rebounds against Texas in the Big 12 title game back in March would agree.
The issue with Taylor, however, is consistency. He had six turnovers and just one assist in the Jayhawk’s loss to Kansas State in February. He struggled in much-too-close for comfort wins over the likes of Iowa State and Nebraska. But where Taylor is the most inconsistent is off the court. He’s been suspended multiple times in his Kansas career — most notably stemming from the fight between the basketball and football teams back in 2009. Last season, he sat two games at the end of February for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
I’ve already written about my concerns with having Taylor as a leader, but apparently I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. J. Brady McCollough, the brilliant Jayhawk beat-writer for the Kansas City Star, wrote a terrific profile of Taylor (I strongly encourage you to go read that, like, right now). He tried to break down exactly why Taylor struggles with his behavior off-the-court.
Some of it makes sense. For instance, in an effort to get his family out of a bad neighborhood in his native New Jersey, Taylor pushed for them to move to Lawrence, KS. Where the typical college student goes to school to get away from his family and experience life on his own, Taylor brought his family along with. That means that instead of worrying about what shoes he’s going to wear out on a Friday night, he may be playing mediator for an argument between his two sisters. Instead of being able to go hang out with his teammates, he may need to be giving someone a ride to work.
“The situations that a 20-year-old college kid can escape, I usually can’t,” Taylor told McCollough. “Because my family is right here. I haven’t really ever just been worried about myself since I’ve been here.”
As a person, that’s a good thing. I’m sure most people out there will agree with me that they want their son worrying about looking after his little sisters and putting family before himself. Throw in the fact that Taylor’s “crimes” were nothing that would get a normal college student in trouble, and I think its safe to say that Taylor is not a bad person.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t concerns for Kansas with Taylor running the point this season. Taylor has essentially admitted that he is distracted by the presence of his family in Lawrence. He’s also proven that a) he’s not able to follow the rules put in place by Bill Self on his team and b) he’s not smart enough to avoid getting caught when he decides to break those rules. He’s distracted, and while those distractions are, at times, more important than simply playing a basketball game, they are distractions nonetheless. And they take away from his performance on the court.
Hopefully, after reading McCollough’s profile, anyone that had made up their mind that Taylor was a bad kid will have changed it. As far as I can tell, he’s not.
But not being a bad kid does not make one an ideal leader for a basketball team.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.