Jermaine Taylor Interview

Fri, 05/08/2009 - 11:58am
Central Florida’s Jermaine Taylor was college basketballs best kept secret this year. He was the Conference-USA MVP and the 3rd leading scorer in the nation. Recently leading the Portsmouth Invitational in scoring, the 6-4 shooting guard took time out of his busy schedule to chat with about his outlook on the draft, his football career, the Memphis Tigers, and more.

Jermaine Taylor What are you doing to prepare for the draft?

Jermaine Taylor: I’m actually just getting off the plane from Indiana as we speak. Out there I was working with my personal trainer. Mostly working on my defensive stance, and a lot of weight training. How did you decide on playing for Central Florida out of high school?

Jermaine Taylor: It’s close to home and that is important to me. I wanted my mom to be able to come to my games. Also, I wanted to play right away and have an opportunity to be one of the top scorers on the team from the start. And my cousin Darryl Davis (started for Central Florida from 1991-95) played there and that meant a lot to me. You won many awards in the state of Florida your senior year of high school. The Gators still weren’t interested?

Jermaine Taylor: They were interested. But, it was a recruiting year where they were bringing in three other guards. Walter Hodge, David Huertas, and Derwin Kitchen. They were all guards from Florida that I had played against. It didn’t make sense for all of us to go to Florida because there was only so much playing time at the guard position. It would’ve been great to compete with those guys everyday at practice, but at the time I was too concerned with earning playing time right away, so I chose Central Florida. You were also a very productive wide receiver in high school. Playing in the state of Florida, you must’ve had some college football teams who were interested?

Jermaine Taylor: Most definitely. We went 12-1 my senior year. I was recruited by every big-time football school in Florida. Virginia Tech wanted me to play football for them too. Ron Zook (Florida coach at the time) came to my high school and sat down with me and my football coach. He was the most interested. But, I knew I was a basketball player and had to play college basketball. Back in January you guys played Memphis tough, leading at halftime, but eventually falling by only 7 points. Do you wish you had another crack at them?

Jermaine Taylor: Absolutely. But, that was a great night for us minus the loss. We came out ready to play and we played very hard. They just had too much firepower in the 2nd half. Just when they seemed to start getting tired, they would bring in a new wave of guys that had too much energy. Are you sick of hearing people say that Memphis plays in a weak conference?

Jermaine Taylor: It bothers me, I’m not going to lie. Conference-USA gets no respect. But, if you look at the guards, we had some of the best guards in the country. Two of us made the 1st team at the Portsmouth Invitational. I’m going to assume that you were one of the two?

Jermaine Taylor: (Laughs). Ya I was. Paul (Paul Delaney of UAB) was the other. I played with a chip on my shoulder at Portsmouth. All year I felt like I wasn’t getting any respect. I wanted to show everyone at Portsmouth that I was for real and I think I did that. Memphis hasn’t lost in the conference the last 3 years, but you were still named the MVP of Conference USA. Did you think that someone on Memphis would get the award over you despite putting up 29.1 points per game?

Jermaine Taylor: I have to be honest. In the beginning of the year, I didn’t think I had a chance. All you heard about were the Memphis Tigers. Tyreke Evans this, Tyreke Evans that. But, once the conference games started, I was like “I worked way too hard this summer to let someone else get this thing over me.” Then I broke most the school records and lots of Conference-USA records. So, by the end of the season, you could say that I was expecting the award even though Memphis still hadn’t lost a game in the conference. You are known for your athleticism and you proved you can shoot from beyond the arc by making 92 three-pointers this year. You were the nation’s 3rd leading scorer this year. So, why isn’t there more hype surrounding you? Do you feel you are flying under the NBA radar a little bit?

Jermaine Taylor: Yes definitely. I know I didn’t play at one of the elite college basketball schools. I was almost never on ESPN no matter how well I played. Other guys like Blake Griffin and Steph Curry were on ESPN all the time, but I was doing the same thing and shooting a better percentage. It was frustrating at times. But, I never let it affect my game. At the end of the day I have confidence that the right people saw me play and know I can play at the next level. The numbers don’t lie. What area of your game do you feel needs the most work?

Jermaine Taylor: Defense. It’s not that I can’t play D. But, I was the focal point on offense all year and had to carry the load offensively. In a way, I think that hurts me a little bit because now people just assume I can’t play any D, and that’s unfair. I’ve been working real hard on staying in a stance and widening my hips. I think I have gotten much better at doing that since the season ended. What player in the NBA do you feel that your game most resembles?

Jermaine Taylor: I don’t really know. A lot of people say that I’m like Dwayne Wade. That’s probably because we are the same height and weight. But, he’s the guy that I watch the most. He’s my favorite player. Him, Kobe, and Lebron. I watch those guys and try to learn from them. Do you think you can contribute right away at the NBA level next year? If so, what role would you play?

Jermaine Taylor: You know what? I’m just excited. I’ll be a good fit for anyone. That’s honestly how I feel. I can shoot. At this point, I think everyone knows that, and every NBA team could use more shooters. The difference will be that I’m not going to be the focal point of the other team’s defense. I won’t see double teams or special defenses to stop just me. And that’s going to be something that I haven’t seen in a long long time. So I’m really excited about that because it’s something that I think I can take advantage of. Ok, Jermaine. Thanks for taking time the time to chat with us. Good luck in the future.

Jermaine Taylor: Thank you very much, I appreciate that.
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stefon Jackson is the second

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