North Texas Daily

Taylor ruled ineligible, can heal from surgery

Taylor ruled ineligible, can heal from surgery

October 24
23:44 2012

Ryne Gannoe / Senior Staff Writer

The Mean Green men’s basketball team will have to play without one of its new recruits this season.

The NCAA denied the immediate eligibility of transfer guard T.J. Taylor. Taylor, a sophomore, was originally signed to play with the Oklahoma Sooners coming out of high school. He left OU and spent a season at Paris Junior College before signing with Marquette, the former school of UNT head coach Tony Benford.

Taylor was released from his commitment to Marquette and decided on UNT.

“I had a great relationship with coach Benford, and I knew coach [associate head coach Rob] Evans previously, so I came here,” Taylor said.

Although Taylor never took a class at Marquette and Marquette head coach Buzz Williams released Taylor, the NCAA still denied the appeal.

“As a program, we are in complete support of his decision, and we wish him all the best in his future as a student-athlete,” Williams said in a press release this summer.

Taylor is still eligible to participate in practice and team events, but will not be able to play in any of the games.

“It impacts us because he’s another guy that can score the basketball and defend,” Benford said. “At six-foot-four, he’s a big wing. He didn’t violate any rules, he just transferred out, and that’s just what it is.”

Enrollment at UNT will cost Taylor a year of eligibility, but Benford is hopeful that a postseason appeal for another year of eligibility is still a good option.

Because of the NCAA ruling, Taylor elected to undergo shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. Taylor said he would have delayed the surgery if granted eligibility.

Benford said he didn’t foresee any problems with Taylor’s recovery.

“He’ll be fine. I’ve had several kids who have had that [surgery],” he said. “I had a kid who had both shoulders operated on, and he recovered fine.”

Taylor, Benford and senior forward Niko Stojiljkovic all expressed their disappointment in the outcome of the situation.

“It’s bad for us,” Stojiljkovic said. “We have to fight through it. Even though he could have been a big part of the team, everybody has to pick it up and do their part a little more.”

The Mean Green’s season starts at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Super Pit with an exhibition game against East Central.

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