Q+A: Tyshawn Taylor
SLAMonline catches up with the always candid New Jersey point guard.
by Kels Dayton / @Roundball_Daily
It’s been a long, crazy year for Tyshawn Taylor. The 6-3 guard led a young Kansas team from pre-season anonymity to the brink of a National Championship, simultaneously holding the ‘Hawks down and giving fans his customary heart attack in the process.
Taylor put up 17.3 points and 4.8 assists per game last season, emerging as one of the best point guards in the country. Still, his penchant for questionable decision-making in spots has some NBA scouts wondering whether he can play a consistent lead guard at the next level.
If Tyshawn is anything, he’s honest. He calls his college career “up and down,” and admits that he and coach Bill Self butted heads at times.
In this interview, Taylor dishes in full on his time at Kansas, his relationship with Self, and his feelings on being a likely second-round pick. He also talks about adjusting to life on the road, playing against his idols, and why he thinks LeBron deserved a Championship.
SLAM: So how is the Draft process going so far?
Tyshawn Taylor: It’s going good; I’m happy it’s almost over. It’s been a long process, but it’s been going very well.
SLAM: Why are you happy it’s almost over?
TT: I’ve been busy, man. I’ve been on the road like consistently, non-stop. I haven’t really been able to just settle down and relax, so I’m a little tired. Not so much with the workouts but more so just the traveling and being in hotels…I don’t really sleep well in them. But I guess this is just getting me ready for what’s next.
SLAM: Which teams have you worked out for so far?
TT: Boston, Miami, Indiana, Golden State, Cleveland and Memphis.
SLAM: Is there one team that has seemed the most interested in you?
TT: I’ve been getting pretty much the same feedback from everybody. Everyone thinks I’m talented and I haven’t really had any knocks about my workouts. My workouts have been really good.
SLAM: What do you think your biggest strengths are?
TT: I think my biggest attribute and what I can bring most to an NBA team right now is definitely my athletic ability. The way I defend guards… that’s probably what is most attractive to NBA teams right now. I think I’m becoming more of a consistent shooter. It’s not automatic yet, but I think it’s a work in progress. I’ve really been working on it and it’s coming along really well. I think I can put some points on the board if I need to.
SLAM: I have to ask you about the slump that you went into during the Tournament. (Tyshawn went 0-20 from three-point range in the first five games before hitting one three in the National Title game—Ed.) What do you think that was… just an aberration? How do you describe it?
TT: I don’t really know, man, the shots felt good… a lot of them were in and out. They’re shots I’m [used to taking]. I wish I could blame it on those domes man, but I don’t know… I just didn’t shoot it well enough.
SLAM: What do you think most teams didn’t know about your game that they might have found out during the workout?
TT: I think—I don’t know if it’s so much my ability or if they just got to see the way I compete. The way I am as a leader. I talk a lot during these workouts… I’m active. I’m vocal… and you know I’m just a really good person to be around. I can be a really good teammate. I think they get to see that in the workouts.
SLAM: Do you feel disrespected by the fact that teams are projecting you as a second-round pick? There weren’t too many guards who had a better year than you did last year…
TT: I think if you go off one year… just one season, maybe I’d feel a little upset about it. But if you go off of the body of work, my career has been kind of up and down. I think that teams know that I’m talented and can play in the League.
Honestly, I would love to go in the first round. Don’t get me wrong—I think I’m a first-round talent for sure. I think a lot of the guards that will end up going in the first round, I can compete with or be better than. But at the same time, I think that my work ethic and competitiveness—no matter what team I go to or where I get drafted—that’s what will allow me to be effective.
I think I can help a team win right away, and I think that’s something that some of the other guards just can’t bring. I think after four years at Kansas handling the rock, it kind of got me ready. I’m mature and I’m ready to play right now.
SLAM: When you think about the National Championship game, what comes to mind?
TT: The National Championship game was a really good game, man. I feel like if we had about a minute and a half or two minutes left in that game it could have gone either way for sure. I think—obviously, the Kentucky team is really talented and they played really well together, but I love the way our team fought back from a big lead. I was really proud of my guys. It hurt for a little while, but I mean, when you look at the gist of the whole season, it was a good season because we weren’t even supposed to be in that position. Just to get there was a really good feeling.