A day before his first game of the season, St. Anne’s Belfield (Charlottesville, Va.) shooting guard Justin Taylor learned that one of his teammates tested positive for COVID-19, subsequently ending their season before it even started.
“We get out of quarantine March 1 and the last day we can play games is March 5,” Taylor said. “We might play in some leagues, but that’s all. It’s pretty frustrating.”
Now, Taylor has extra time, albeit unwanted, to focus on his recruitment, which has picked up steam in the recent weeks with two big offers from North Carolina and Providence in the fold.
Virginia, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Indiana, N.C. State, Georgetown, Marquette and many others all remain in contention as well.
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“This is a time for me to ask the tougher questions,” said Taylor, whose stock soared this summer after averaging 16 points a game for Team Takeover (Washington, D.C.). “It’s getting later in the process for me, so I want to know that I’ll be able to fit into their systems right away. I’m also hoping that we’ll be able to get out for visits later in the year. Talking on the phone is cool, but you want that in-person interaction.”
That said, Taylor described receiving a cellphone offer from North Carolina head coach Roy Williams as “a surreal” experience.
“He was actually in Charlottesville because they were playing Virginia that next day,” Taylor said. “He said he’d been talking to my coaches and watched my games and told me how much he loved my game. Then he just offered me. It was pretty exciting.”
Taylor said Williams compared him to former Tar Heel star Justin Jackson, now in his fourth year in the NBA with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“That was a big one because we’re similar in the fact that we’re bigger, versatile guards that can shoot the ball,” Taylor said. “He had a great career there and he’s doing well as a pro, so that’s an honor to be compared to him.”
Going forward, Taylor said his plan remains twofold: Cut his list by the beginning of the summer and make a final decision by the end of the summer.
“That’s what I’m shooting for right now,” Taylor said. “I know things can change, but with all the free time I have, I’m thinking about the decision more and more. It’s a big one.”