Taylor King visited where he will play his college ball during the next few years and gave Duke fans reason to be excited about his game, as the talented Southern Cal All Stars won three games to advance to today's semi-finals which will start at 9:00 at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill. One of his teams games was succesfully played at the Dean Dome, but the real excitment were from his teams two victories in his future home, Cameron Indoor Stadium.
|Duke recruit Nolan Smith|
King scored 25 points, had 4 rebounds, an assist in the first win. The majority of his points were from beyond the paint, as the 6-7 growing prospect showed off a sweet outside touch that is sure to take many teams out of a zone defense in his bright future.
Taylor moved well without the ball, set a couple of screens, showed the abilty to relocate passes, lead his teammates on outlet passes and forced two turnovers. While his defensive footwork could use a little improvement as could positioning on rebounding on the offensive end, he showed that he is capable of playing with a talented cast of players. That group includes one of the nations best PG's, a future stud in Linaldo Sidney and the much bally-hooed and talented Kevin Love who is listing UCLA and UNC as his finalist.
The thing I liked most about Taylor's game early on was his spirit and drive. He never lets a bad pass or play get to him and shows confidence in his game, as does his aforemntioned talented squad.
"My father met with Coach K on Thursday and got to see some of the facilities", said King. "I like the private school atmosphere and feel very comfortable here and in the Duke system". Taylor went on to say that Coach K had given him a few things to work on and stated how he liked the family atmosphere and being able to get around on a small campus like Duke. King turned down offers from Villanova and Gonzaga to
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The Duke system is sure to like his tenacity, too. Fans who showed up for the late 10:00 est starting time saw him lead a second half charge where his team overcame a fourteen point deficit to beat a very pesky Southeast Elite team 85-76 in what was one of the tournament most exciting games, if not the most. Veteran Duke sportswriter Al Featherston, who saw many games in Chapel Hill today and many others on press row, agreed that this was an most exciting nightcap to a very long day.
For awhile in the first half, it didn't seem that way. Southeast was hitting lights out from outside and running a very succesful motion offense taking a 50-37 halftime lead, shocking many observers. To make matters worse, Taylor King had struggled going 1 for 6 from the field. While this may have been due to three games in a day, it was no excuse in a win or go home situation.
It was clear that the So. Cal All Stars came out fired up in the second half, but Southeast wasn't going to roll over. Just when King's team had cut slightly into the lead, the very talented big man Keven Love got his fourth foul and was forced to the bench. Shortly thereafter King came alive in a sensational stretch of basketball.
He nailed two consecutive three pointers, grabbed a defensive rebound and drew a foul, which cut the lead to 65-64. He then blocked a shot on the defensive end which led to his team taking a 66-65 lead in a torrid comeback. Shortly therafter, King hit a dagger three pointer from the corner and that coupled with Kevin Loves return at the 4:04 mark led the California youngsters to tomorrows semi finals in the Dean Dome.
I caught up with a happy Taylor King after the game and asked him Taylor, you played a great game against a tough team, how do you feel about that comeback?
King said "Yeah, I feel real good, we comeback all the way down from 14 and thats whats hot, thats why we are number one". He further stated "It's great to be playing tomorrow'". I then said you struggled a little in the first half, but you came back in the second with some teancity ... "Well, shooters keep shooting and that's what I did" He further stated "I missed all my shots in the first half, but made them all in the second" I then wished him luck and hope to see some Dukies turn out to follow his talented team starting at 9:00 est today. It will take three more wins to be number one in the Tournament of Champions.
Taylor ended up with 20 points, 11 rebounds, but he did much more in a game where I kept a sharp eye on him. Taylor drew five fouls, threw three passes ahead for fastbreaks, had four blocks, a steal and managed to set a couple of good picks. If that wern't enough, I had him down for altering three shots as well. I'd say he atoned nicely and played a very good second half and that any doubters of this kid fitting into our system should rest easy knowing that this is a Duke kind of player. He is coachable, determined and has the character I feel Coach K is looking for.
Notes- Teammate Kevin Love told me that he'd met with Dean Smith and Coach Williams and played with Tyler Hansbrough. Love said he was down to UNC or UCLA and liked the way both systems utilized their big men and like their tradition. Rising tenth grader and King/Love teammate
Renaldo Sidney will rise on a lot of recruiting radars. I urge everybody to check out Al's new book on the Big Four, Wake, NCSU, UNC and Duke.