Brandon Taylor Player Spotlight
The “Freshmen 15” is a daunting development that many first-year college students must face. In his first few months at Penn State, Brandon Taylor had to worry about the “Freshmen 30”. However, adding weight wasn’t what scared the 6-7 Nittany Lions forward, instead it was dropping the pounds.
“Coach (Pat Chambers) told me to lose weight but I thought he was crazy,” said Taylor. “It turned out great though.”
Formerly topping the scales at 260 pounds, Taylor has shed 30 lbs. in the span of just two months. Now at 230 pounds, Taylor is the lightest he has been since his sophomore year of high school. The quickness gained and worth ethic displayed during his recovery from plantar fasciitis is paying off.
Taylor is the newest addition to Chamber’s starting lineup after injury to star point guard, Tim Frazier, caused adjustments for the entire team. His freshman season totals thus far appear modest. Taylor is averaging 6.4 points per game, to go along with 2.4 rebounds. But a breakout performance in his first start against Bucknell proved that he may be able to contribute more than anyone anticipated in his first year.
“I wasn’t really sure how much he was going to be able to give us,” said Chambers. “Right now he is exceeding our expectations.”
Against the Bison, Taylor dropped 16 points on 6-11 shooting, including 4-8 from 3-point territory. Chambers has been impressed with the 18-year-old’s confidence and fearlessness on the court, describing his improvement in terms of “light years” since his arrival on campus this past June. Confidence is something Taylor says he has always possessed.
“He missed his first few, and some might be gunshy,” said Chambers of the Taylor’s performance in the Bucknell game. “But he kept shooting.”
Chambers also said Taylor has done a tremendous job picking up his unique terminology and defensive rotations. Over the past few games he has shown the ability to stretch the floor, adding another dimension for the Nittany Lions. For the foreseeable future, Taylor’s versatility and defense will keeping him a starter. Earning the gig meant a lot to the Tabernacle, N.J., native, but he still recognizes his role.
“I’m a freshman, I’m new,” Taylor said. “I’m just learning and learning to play with other guys.”
Accomplishments aside, Taylor is simply thankful to be playing basketball again. Due to constantly playing, plantar fasciitis developed following his high school career at Trenton Catholic Academy. Doctors told him to rest for a while to lessen the wear and tear on his feet and heels.
“It was difficult,” said Taylor. “I love basketball, I want to play everyday.”
Hard work led Taylor back to the gym. The first task was losing the weight, now comes on-the-court improvements. Taylor said he will be focusing on getting stronger, especially for conference play, which will in turn benefit his rebounding.
“We are still developing our identity and who we want to be-post Tim Frazier,” said Chambers.
No one can make up for the loss of a preseason All Big-10 selection, but the emergence of the freshman Taylor will certainly help.
Eric DeBerardinis is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.