New SEMO post Nolan Taylor has enjoyed the scenery, now he wants some substance
Tom Davis ~ Tdavis@semoball.com
There is no hidden agenda as to why Nolan Taylor is going to suit up for the Southeast Missouri State men’s basketball program this coming season.
The fifth-year post player is seeking two things from the next 12 months:
· Develop a deep relationship with the new Redhawk coaching staff, and
· Help Southeast achieve success
It really is that simple and if there are any questions regarding that, you’d have to understand Taylor’s athletic history over the past four seasons.
A day at the beach
The 6-foot-7, 260-pound athlete spent two seasons playing – and playing well – at Pepperdine, which is arguably the most beautiful college campus in the entire country.
“Growing up in Texas,” Taylor said, “you don’t have views like that and are able to be at the (Pacific Ocean) in 30 seconds. “Obviously, it was a great environment just to breathe that fresh ocean air.”
Lots of sun, lots of Ls
The sunsets are breath-taking in Malibu, but they didn’t make up for competing on a six-win team in his sophomore season, which led to the Waves’ making a coaching change.
That led to Taylor transferring for two seasons at Cal Poly, which is a magnificent campus in its own right, tucked among the mountains of northern California just a long 3-pointer from the Pacific coast.
The weather remained the same for Taylor in his new stop, but unfortunately, so did the results.
After redshirting through another six-win campaign, he played this past season for a team, like Southeast, won just seven games.
“I want my last year to be at a place where they value character,” Taylor said of his choice of Southeast, “where they value relationships and a place where I can grow as a person and an athlete.
“And also is a place that has the potential for a winning pedigree.”
Despite the obstacles created by a global pandemic, Taylor has built “trust” with new Redhawk coach Brad Korn and assistant coach Sam McMahon.
“At this time,” Taylor said of the pandemic, “you can’t look at a coach face-to-face, you can’t go to a campus, so you have to trust them.”
He believes in the direction that Korn wants to take Southeast and Taylor is excited about being part of a foundation of success.
“I felt that this coaching staff best suited me,” Taylor said. “I told all of the coaches that recruited me that I wasn’t worried about the location. I was worried about how can I build the best relationship with the coaching staff so we can further his vision and build a winning culture?”
Have ability, can play
Taylor has found a philosophy that he is comfortable with, which is fantastic, but at the end of the day, he has to be able to perform.
As a freshman at Pepperdine, Taylor started 20 of 24 games on a team that won 16 games in the challenging West Coast Conference.
He scored in double-digits seven times, including a 20-point and a 10-rebound game against a very good San Francisco program.
His second season was even more productive, as he averaged nine points per game, before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury after 15 games.
Health is the key
Injuries have become a recurring theme for Taylor.
This past season, he was injured in practice the day before Cal Poly’s season-opener and ultimately played just 14 games.
“In high school,” Taylor said of his days at Keller (Texas) High School, “I missed maybe one game in my entire career. It has been a humbling experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world (though) because it has taught me so much.
“It’s hard going through injuries. It’s hard going through surgeries knowing the potential you have as an athlete. I won’t say (college) has been an easy journey. It’s been so tough.”
Have ability, can play, Part II
When Taylor was able to get on the court for Cal Poly, like at Pepperdine, he played well.
In the Mustangs’ four-game preseason tour against professional teams in England, Taylor led his team in scoring three times and grabbed 12 rebounds in one of those games.
When he finally returned to action in January, he was limited to 13 minutes per game but showed flashes of ability.
In a 105-101 overtime loss against Cal State Fullerton, Taylor scored 35 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 46 minutes of action.
“I played half of the season and it was kind of up and down,” Taylor said. “It didn’t reflect who I am as a player.”
'Lean' into it
Taylor battled ankle problems at Cal Poly and had surgery recently to ensure he was ready to play this fall for Southeast. He is in the process of rehabilitating the injury and has already begun speaking with Southeast assistant strength and conditioning coach Tony Brutofsky, as well as a nutritionist.
The goal is for him to play at “a lean 245” (pounds), which are 15 fewer than last season.
A healthy body, coupled with his work ethic and skill-set, should make Taylor a significant part of any success that the Redhawks achieve.
“I am an unselfish big,” Taylor explained. “I have the ability to score, but I want to do what the team needs. I am a willing passer and that correlates to what coach Korn was talking about, which is to build an unselfish culture.
“That is really important to me. SEMO fans can expect to see a skilled big man who can pass, score, and rebound at a high level.”
For the success-starved Redhawk Nation, that will be every bit as attractive as any ocean view.