Taylor sees different side of camp now

July 14, 2004|JILL ERWIN

Justin Taylor is in the middle of a busy summer.

The Tates Creek graduate has already completed a summer school session at Tennessee Tech at the request of Tech head basketball coach Mike Sutton. He is lifting weights. He's also working this week at Boyle County High School at the Cameron Mills Basketball Camp.

"Now that I've graduated from high school, I have the opportunity to work some camps because I'm not going to camps myself," Taylor said. "I decided it would be good to come down here and work with the kids."

Taylor, a 6-2 guard, got involved at the camp through his high school coach, Joe Covington. Covington helps Mills run his camps, and several present and former Commodores are working here this week.


The camp is a reminder to Taylor of all the time he spent in camps when he was younger. He sees a new generation learning the game, but said their inability to do all the skills right all the time can be frustrating at times.

"Sometimes, but I remember being there so it's not that frustrating," Taylor said. "I already know what it's like. I've been there before. Most of the time, it's that they just really don't want to do it. They know how to do it, they just don't want to. They'll tell you, too: 'I don't want to do it.'"

While Taylor isn't interested in coaching as a career - he wants to major in merchandising and design and work for Nike - he is interested in helping push Tennessee Tech to the forefront of the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Golden Eagles have been to the NCAA Tournament just twice, but they haven't gone since 1963.

"They recruited me for two years and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to go down there, play in the OVC and play Division I basketball," Taylor said. "Hopefully I might be the OVC freshman of the year and get us a (conference championship) ring."

Taylor averaged 18 points and seven rebounds last season for the Commodores, and he said Sutton is looking at him as a combination point-shooting guard.

"It's pretty much wherever they throw me in at," Taylor said. "I like both. That's why they like me as a combo guard. I really don't have a designated spot they can stick me in at. That kind of helps with playing time, too."

Basketball has always been an integral part of Taylor's life. Growing up, he was always around people who had played collegiately, including Kentucky's Sean Woods. Though he never devoted himself to one team - Taylor cheered for coaches like John Thompson, Rick Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski - Taylor grew up around players that had competed at that level.

"Ever since I was little, I always wanted to play for one of the teams they played for," Taylor said.

"It's kind of funny now. I went to the first semester of summer school since coach Sutton wanted us to get a couple of credits out of the way. When I went down there, I was around people that played at the high collegiate level. There were a couple that transferred from big schools like UMass and Tennessee. It's a good experience to be around people like that."

Eric Williams, an assistant coach at Tates Creek who is helping Mills run this year's camp, likes Taylor's future.

"I expect great things from him," Williams said. "He has a good work ethic and he likes playing amongst teammates. He likes getting everybody involved. I really expect big things from him, especially academically. He's a great student and he really applies himself to everything that he does. He's a good kid."

For now, the future is open to Taylor. He was set to interview for a job in Lexington this week and will continue working on his strength before reporting to Tennessee Tech.

"I finally got an opportunity to play for a Division I school, so hopefully the best will come out of it," Taylor said.

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