By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Kansas University graduate and four-year starter Tyshawn Taylor made his way back to Lawrence last month for the Bill Self Basketball Camp, which included a scrimmage between current players and alumni. In that contest, Taylor, got his first live look at Jayhawks freshman and Canadian sensation Andrew Wiggins, widely-regarded as the probable No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
As shown in the video above, that scrimmage opened with Wiggins getting the ball in the open court and dunking on Cole Aldrich, a video clip that quickly made the rounds on Twitter and YouTube.
Taylor, who knows a little something about being a focal point at Kansas, came away very impressed with the 18-year-old.
“He’s an athlete, just a freak athlete,” Taylor, a second-year Nets point guard told SNY.tv following the Nets’ third of summer league practices on Friday afternoon. “It’s crazy, he gets off the ground so quick and jumps so high and his arms are crazy long and it just looks crazy when he dunks the ball. He has skill, he can handle the ball, decent shooter, he has a little bit of everything. He does a little bit of everything really well. You could play him at the 2, 3 or 4. Again, he’s a freak.”
As Taylor prepares with the Nets’ summer league unit for what he admits is a huge two-week stretch for his professional career, he has an eye on Kansas, who, with Wiggins, should begin 2013-14 inside the top 10 in most preseason polls. At a program where the spotlight is always bright no matter who is on the roster, the spotlight and scrutiny are expected to be magnified with Wiggins in the fold.
There is going to be a lot of pressure for an 18-year-old to handle, but as Taylor was quick to point out, pressure is not something that is foreign to Wiggins.
“I think the people saying he’ll go No. 1 next year, that puts a lot of pressure on a young kid, but I think he’s had that pressure and been known as that prodigy-type of kid for a while, so I think he’s embracing it,” Taylor said. “He’s excited about it and I think Coach Self is going to put him in the right position to be successful and with the team he’s gonna have, they’re gonna win a lot of games. They’re gonna be on TV a lot, he’s gonna get a lot of attention and I don’t think he’s gonna have to do much to be the No. 1 pick. I think he has the ability to do it. I think he has the ability to play in this league right now.”
Kansas figured to be pretty good without Wiggins, what with junior guard Naadir Tharpe and sophomore forward Perry Ellis returning to school, plus a consensus top-3 recruiting class headlined by Wiggins, small forward Wayne Selden and 7-foot center Joel Embiid.
“I think it’s gonna be a good year, they got some really good players,” said Taylor, a 1,500-point scorer who quarterbacked Kansas to the national championship game as a senior in 2012. “Wayne Seldon is good, (freshman) Connor Frankamp impressed me when I played against him, Naadir Tharpe, who was a freshman when I was a senior year, he’s come a long way as a proven point guard, Perry Ellis came a long way, so they’ve got a really good team. Coach Self is excited about this team and I’m looking forward to watching them.”