Q+A: Tyshawn Taylor
SLAMonline catches up with the always candid New Jersey point guard.
SLAM: Is there anything about that game you’d do differently?
TT: [Long pause] Um…yeah man, if we could take that game back or start it over we would come out how we tried to end the game…just being really aggressive and staying in attack mode. I felt like we were a little bit passive at the beginning, and that’s why they got out to such a large lead.
SLAM: What’s your favorite memory of your time at Kansas?
TT: I mean, making it to the Final Four. I’d been there for four years; we had really, really good teams all three years before that and we fell short. We fell short. So like I said, making it as far as this year’s team did was just amazing, man. This whole season was just an amazing experience.
At the beginning of the year, going to Maui and losing in the championship to Duke, we got so much better after that. Then, going in conference and losing at Missouri… that was a tough one, but we got better after that and we ended up winning the conference.
You know, and then going to the Big 12 Tournament and losing to Baylor… we got better after that and we took it all the way to the National Championship. I think this whole season was something to look back on and it’s definitely something I’m going to remember for a very, very long time.
SLAM: What was it like to play for him? What would you say about your time with him, on and off the court?
TT: I mean… I think coach Self taught me a lot. I really never played the point guard position until I got to high school, so I give a lot of credit to coach Self for kind of transforming me into that position. There were times when I was younger that he and I kind of butted heads because I was just a stubborn kid. I was a stubborn 18-, 19-year-old kid who kind of wanted things to go his way and wasn’t looking at the big picture.
I think my last two years, coach Self would tell you that he loved coaching me. I was very coachable. I worked hard every day… I brought it every day, and so I think overall, my four years I think it’s been really good. I helped win him a lot of games and he helped get me to the player that I’m at right now. I love Coach Self to death and I’m sure that we’ll be in touch for a long time.
SLAM: What has Coach Self been doing to help you through this draft process, if anything?
TT: Not much, actually. Coach Self helped me with the agent thing, but as far as the draft process it’s just something that you’ve gotta go through yourself. You’re flying to cities all by yourself. You rent hotels all by yourself. You go to the workout and then it’s onto the next city, so there’s really not much he can do to help. I’m sure he’s been in contact with some of the other teams. I had a great career playing for him and there were some ups and downs… I’m sure that he had some great times coaching me. So if he’s talking to the teams, I’m sure he’s saying nothing but good things.
SLAM: Is there an NBA player you would compare yourself to?
TT: I do think I’m unique in a lot of ways, but I think certain things about me… my height, my length, my ability is kind of like a Jrue Holiday or a [Rajon] Rondo. I think my explosiveness is kind of like a Rondo or a Devin Harris. I love Russell Westbrook’s game… I love Derrick Rose. At that position you’ve got to be fast and you’ve gotta be explosive, and I try to be all of those things.
SLAM: Do you try to kind of take things from other players’ games and incorporate them into your own game?
TT: Oh, for sure. Like I said I love Rondo. I love Westbrook. I’ve got their highlights on my iPad. I’m just watching them coming off screens left, coming off screens right… things like that. I love their game, man. So I kind of take some things. I’m a huge student of the game, man. So I’m tuned in at all times to basketball.
SLAM: Who is your favorite player of all time?
TT: Of all time? Man, Michael Jordan of all time for sure. You know, I grew up in the ‘90s so Michael was the man—still is the man—probably always will be the man. Of late, I’ve been a huge Kobe fan. Like I said I love Rondo’s game. He’s my favorite point guard in the league for sure.
SLAM: Did you have a specific rooting interest in the NBA Finals?
TT: I think King James deserved it, man. I think LeBron deserved it, but I think Kevin Durant is the best player in the league right now.
SLAM: Why do you think LeBron deserves it?
TT: I think he just puts in so much work, man, and he’s been taking such a beating for so long. He’s such a great player and you can’t really be considered great unless you have a ring nowadays. I don’t think anybody takes away from his ability… We all know what he can do, but I think he’d just get stamped and certified with a ring so everybody can kind of fall back and let him breathe. He [got] crucified so much for not having a ring that people don’t realize what he does, you know?
SLAM: Is there going to be a ‘wow’ factor when you step on to the court with guys like Kobe, LeBron, in the NBA?
TT: Heck yeah, I’m sure it’s gonna be a ‘wow’ factor, man. These guys are players that I’ve idolized and I’ve been looking up to for so long. Tto be able to step on the court with them… I feel like it’s going to be kind of unreal. But at the same time, I understand that it’s my job to go out there and compete and that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t think I’m going to be star-struck for probably more than two seconds and then it’s just basketball again.
SLAM: Is there going to be extra motivation in those games?
TT: For sure, for sure. You know, for young guys like myself that want to get certified and want to be one of those great players… you gotta stay hungry. You’ve got to feel like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder. That’s why I kind of get back to the point where I said it doesn’t really matter where I get drafted because I’m going to compete. I’m going to work hard, and I’m going to earn every minute I get.