Four years ago, Tyshawn Taylor led St. Anthony’s (N.J.) to an undefeated state basketball championship and intended to continue his career at Marquette.
But when Golden Eagles coach Tom Crean moved to Indiana, Taylor moved as well. Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley, the primary recruiter of Taylor, had kept in touch and sold Taylor on playing time. After all, the starting five from KU’s 2008 national championship team was moving on.
Taylor said yes to KU, and one of the most colorful, engaging and controversial careers in recent hoops history commenced.
He was Good Tyshawn, Bad Tyshawn, and now, with Kansas preparing for its national semifinal against Ohio State, he’s on the verge of becoming Champion Tyshawn.
• Taylor starts KU’s opening game and scores seven points against UMKC.
• In a game that would ultimately decide the Big 12 championship, Taylor scores 26 at Oklahoma.
• In September, fights break out between members of the basketball and football teams, and Taylor dislocates a thumb throwing a punch. He announces the incident on his Facebook account, using the term “point plankn,” which sends everybody to the Urban Dictionary, only to find nothing. It’s there’s now, with Taylor credited as the term’s creator.
Asked about its origin, Taylor later says he meant to type “point blank” and made a mistake. Taylor’s Facebook page was taken down for a few months after that.
• Taylor changes his uniform number from 15 to 10.
• Taylor loses the coaching staff’s confidence when he says he and others on the team weren’t sure of their roles. Uh, oh. For a while, coach Bill Self shows Taylor his role — coming off the bench.
• Taylor records his career first double-double (17 points, 10 assists) in a season-opening victory over Longwood.
• Taylor becomes more of a playmaker and logs a career-best 4.6 assists. His scoring average improves to 9.3.
• Taylor serves the first of two suspensions in his career for violating unspecified team rules. He missed two Big 12 games late during his junior year and KU’s exhibition games his senior season.
“Of all the things that have happened in my career, the one that stands out is that suspension,” Taylor says. “I felt like a let a lot of people down.”
• Taylor becomes the first player recruited by the Self staff to start for four years, but the season has as many downs as ups: 22 points against Kentucky, 11 turnovers against Duke.
• From his hotel room in Norman, Okla., Taylor uses his Twitter account to answer his critics, who gripe mostly about Taylor’s ballhandling. A sample: “If half that talk about ball could actually ball I’d appreciate y’all comments and criticism more but y’all can’t do (so you’re) stuck to being a fan.”
Taylor responded to reporters after the Jayhawks’ defeated Oklahoma:
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and so am I. So, my response to the million people that hated me was, ‘I don’t respond to criticism that comes from somebody who is not in my position.’
“They don’t really know what it takes to be a point guard at this level. I appreciate the fan support; I love our fans. I think we have some of the best fans in the country. I think some fans give them a bad name sometimes.”
Bill Self isn’t happy about it, but unlike the Facebook episode he doesn’t impose a social media ban.
• Taylor’s two free throws with 8.3 seconds remaining prove to be the difference in one of the most remarkable games in Allen Fieldhouse history, an 87-86 overtime triumph over Missouri. The Jayhawks trailed by 19 early in the second half and by 16 with about 10 minutes remaining. Taylor finishes with 24 points, five assists and one turnover in 44 minutes.
• Beginning with the Big 12 Tournament loss to Baylor, Taylor takes a streak of 20 straight misses from beyond the three-point arc into the national semifinal game against Ohio State. But he scored 22 against North Carolina in the Midwest Regional title game, had 10 rebounds in the Sweet 16 triumph over North Carolina State and has played his usual great defense throughout the NCAA Tournament.