North Texas Daily

Men’s basketball junior finds a home at UNT

Men’s basketball junior finds a home at UNT

November 21
11:17 2013

John Lugo / Staff Writer

Returning from injuries and ineligibility last season, junior guard T.J. Taylor is expected to make a big contribution to the Mean Green men’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-3-inch guard from Denison, Texas, started his college career at University of Oklahoma, transferred twice to Paris Junior College and then Marquette University and finally arrived at UNT. After a long stretch of trying to find a home, Taylor is looking forward to finally having stability on a team.

“It feels great just to be settled in and [to] be somewhere that you’re wanted,” Taylor said. “I just have to take advantage of it.”

Taylor describes himself as a shooter who also does a good job of getting his teammates involved. Head coach Tony Benford said he expects him to make a major contribution to the team with his great skills on offense and defense.

“He has the ability to shoot the basketball – he can stretch the defense,” Benford said. “He can also put it on the floor and create for himself or create for his teammates. He’s kind of a triple-threat-type guy.”

Taylor also had a difficult time settling into a school because of situations that held him from playing. Taylor suffered a season-ending injury with Oklahoma before even playing a game, and then sat out last year with UNT due to NCAA rules that prohibited him from playing for a new team after previously attending a session of summer school with Marquette.

Junior forward Armani Flannigan, who is Taylor’s roommate, said he could see the frustration in Taylor from not being able to play, but he’s happy he got through it so he can help the team. Taylor has been a big impact on Flannigan, on and off the court.

“He’s giving advice [from] relationships and my girlfriend to helping me work on my free throws. Everything,” Flannigan said. “He’s like a big brother to me.”

Taylor scored 10 points in 16 minutes in the exhibition opener against Oklahoma City University on Nov. 1, and played seven minutes in the most recent game against Nicholls State University on Nov. 14 as he eased his way back in after dealing with soreness issues in his knee – the same which cost him the season at Oklahoma.

Benford said the team can learn a lot from Taylor’s perseverance throughout the obstacles in his college career. One of the main reasons for Taylor’s transfer to UNT was to continue his career under Benford, who was the associate head coach at Marquette and his primary recruiter.

“Sometimes he has the tendency to beat himself up. He’s got to be strong and got to fight through it,” Benford said. “He’s got great faith. He just has to keep staying positive.”

Despite all he’s been through, Taylor said he wouldn’t do things differently if given a second chance. He believes his road to UNT has been a test of his mental toughness.

“It’s all part of my plan. I don’t look back at the past because it’s in the past,” Taylor said. “I feel like it’s part of God’s plan so I don’t question anything. I just roll with it.”

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