Rising Star: Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor
By: Mark Chalifoux
The senior guard from Kansas hasn’t exactly been dazzling in the NCAA tournament. He put up a less-than-stellar 10 points in a first-round blowout win, an even bigger struggle to get 10 points the next game against Purdue and a paltry six points against NC State to get to the elite 8. He finally got his act together, though, against North Carolina and that’s a big reason Kansas is going to the final four.
When it comes to the Jayhawks, the first thing people mention is junior forward Thomas Robinson (and rightfully so as he’s a player of the year candidate) but it was Taylor who helped pull the team to the final four.
A role player on some strong Kansas teams, Taylor hasn’t been able to show what he’s fully capable of until this season. He averages 17.3 points and nearly five assists per game. Against North Carolina, Taylor poured in 22 points to go with six rebounds and five assists. Even more important were his five steals, a season high for Taylor.
The load for Kansas was lightened a bit as top-seeded North Carolina was playing without All-American Kendall Marshall, but the Tar Heels still put up a formidable fight against the Jayhawks. And, if Tyshawn Taylor’s scoring drought is over, Kansas fans should have bigger aspirations than just getting to the final four.
Robinson is going to do what he does, which is score, rebound and be the focus of opposing defenses. That opens a lot up to Taylor, who finally got going against North Carolina and shot above 50 percent for the first time in the tournament.
True, his outside shot still isn’t falling (like, at all…he’s 0-17 from 3 in the tournament) but that trend won’t continue. He shoots nearly 40 percent from behind the arc and has 10 games this season where he hit three or more.
All that stands between Kansas and the national championship game is Ohio State. No small challenge there but the Buckeyes aren’t a terrible matchup, personnel-wise, for the Jayhawks. And if Taylor’s three-point shooting makes the comeback that’s overdue at this point, the Jayhawks won’t go down easy.
This is the last run for Taylor, who is projected as a late first-round pick in the NBA draft. And thanks to his game against UNC, he won’t be remembered for his scoring drought.
Mark Chalifoux is a contributing writer to CBS Local Digital Media and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @markchalifoux on Twitter.