God I love revisionism.
The comments about how Coach Dixon has wasted Taylor. Played him out of position and stunted his development are hilarious. Just because of the stars he had as a recruit, and the “All-American” designation. Or the comments from 2009, by his high school coach. An argument that entirely ignores Taylor’s poor defense, generally, and the potential nightmare of him trying to actually stay with power forwards moving around the court and dragging Taylor behind them.
For three years, we have seen Dante Taylor make incremental progress from his freshman year to the present. The opinion generally has been that he has been a bust. Call it semantics if you wish, but I think he’s been disappointing, not a bust. He still has another year, and I think he’s been weighed down by being designated as a McDonald’s All-American. It now is used against him as a pejorative
Still, maybe one side has a point over the other. Both sides believes Taylor should be better. The issue is, should he be better because the coaching staff failed him, and Dixon played him at center rather than power forward? Or is it that Taylor just isn’t as good as everyone thought and never was?
Since so many like to toss out that designation as a representation of Taylor’s potential, here’s the list of Big Men from the 2009 McDonald’s All-American Game Roster:
Derrick Favors (South Atlanta, GA) (C) Georgia Tech
Alex Oriakhi (Tilton School, NH) (C) UConn
Ryan Kelly (Ravenscroft School, NC) (PF) Duke
Milton Jennings (Pinewood Prep, SC) (PF) Clemson
Dante Taylor (National Christian Academy, MD) (PF) Pittsburgh
DeMarcus Cousins (LeFlore, AL) (PF) Kentucky
Keith “Tiny” Gallon (Oak Hill Academy, VA) (C) Oklahoma
John Henson (Sickles, FL) (PF) UNC
Wally Judge (Arlington Country Day, FL) (PF)
Kansas State Transferred to Rutgers
David Wear (Mater Dei, CA) (PF)
UNC Transferred to UCLA
Travis Wear (Mater Dei, CA) (PF)
UNC Transferred to UCLA
Renardo Sidney (Fairfax, CA) (PF) Mississippi St.
Mason Plumlee (Christ School, NC) (PF) Duke
Quite the murderer’s row, no? Notice Thomas Robinson is not on this list. How are they fairing?
First, here are the basic numbers for Taylor this year: 19.3 minutes/game, 6.5 points and 5.6 rebounds
Went pro: Favors and Cousins are the only one-and-dones in this bunch — that actually produced. Gallon left after a year, mainly because of scandal.
Contributors: Ryan Kelly is averaging 25.8 min /12.2 pts/5.5 rbds. Alex Oriakhi has been up-and-down all three years at UConn — presently down (20.6/6.9/4.8). Milton Jennings is solid, and unspectacular with 26.0/9.7/5.6.
Key player: John Henson is a big part of UNC’s team this year. He has 14.4 points and 10.3 rebounds and nearly 30 minutes a game. As has Mason Plumlee at 10.8 points and 9.4 rebounds with 28.2 minutes per game.
Team Cancer: Renardo Sidney can claim to be “contributor” level on the court with 23.1/10.3/5.3 numbers. But his suspensions, fights with teammates and all the other baggage takes away so much more.
Well, based on that, Taylor is still lagging, but it hardly appears to be that vast a gap. He and Oriakhi are almost equal this year. Taylor plays the fewest minutes of the eight players left.
I’d be curious to see how the numbers would compare if run through the tempo-free stat grinder. I would guess, Taylor would be even closer to those in the Contributor level.
There’s no easy answer in my view. He also has one more year left. I don’t expect all that many to change their view — regardless. Taylor will definitely see some opportunities at PF next year with Gilbert developing and the arrival of Adams. He will have his chance to play both spots.
If Taylor does well at PF, then those who now argue he always should have played there will claim victory. If he doesn’t, they will argue that he was never given a fair chance based on the previous years.
On the other side if Taylor improves as a senior, those who have seen him as a bust, will claim argue he finally had the light go on and that it wasn’t unreasonable to label him a bust in the past. If he doesn’t change much from the past numbers — well, he is still a bust.
Regardless of where he plays, his play on defense remains the biggest weakness.