Taylor Made: 5 Reasons Isaiah Taylor’s Decision to Stay at Texas is the Right One

(Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports)
(Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports)

Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor made many Longhorn basketball fans happy when he announced on Twitter this past Saturday that he will return to the University of Texas for his junior season.

The decision was a tough one for Taylor, who gave his reasons for staying in a statement. "I will be coming back to work on my game and be a part of the new era of Texas Basketball," Taylor said. "When it all came down to it, I didn't want to leave my teammates and not be a part of something I feel can be special. Coach Smart says he needs me here to be the floor leader. I love our team, and I love The University of Texas."

We won't go so far as to predict where the Longhorns will finish next season, after so many pundits named them as Final Four contenders last season. To quote former Texas Governor Rick Perry, "Oops." What we will do is celebrate Taylor's return by giving you 5 reasons his decision to stay is the right one.

1. Isaiah Taylor is the best player on the Texas Longhorns right now.

The soon-to-be junior point guard averaged 13.1 points and 6.4 assists per game in the 2014-2015 season, solid numbers for a sophomore point guard in a stagnant offense (Sorry, Rick Barnes, but the truth hurts.). That said, he has a lot to prove and surely wants to wash the bad taste of a season that saw the Longhorns underachieve out of his mouth. He can do so by establishing himself as the leader of a team that will need him desperately in a year of transition. New head coach Shaka Smart will rely on Taylor to lead by example, something we look forward to seeing Taylor take advantage of.

2. Taylor's style of play is perfect for Shaka Smart's "Havoc" system. 

Smart's "Havoc" defense relies on guards who can create chaos with their speed, possess an ability to press the opposing ball-handler, and can handle the fast pace of an up-tempo game that extends rim to rim. Sound like anyone we know?

Isaiah Taylor (Photo: Courtesy UT Athletics Photography)
Isaiah Taylor (Photo: Courtesy UT Athletics Photography)

Look at NBADraft,net's description of Taylor:

"Isaiah Taylor has elite speed, and quickness. There may not be a guard in the NCAA who is as fast both with and without the ball in his hands, and he can really do some special things on the break and against defenses that are slow to get back. Taylor has a nice foundation in the drive and kick, and pick and roll games, which plays in well with the way a lot of NBA offenses are run these day."

There are few guards better suited for Smart's scheme than Taylor. We're in for an exciting season, it would appear.

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3. Taylor was more Myck Kabongo and J'Covan Brown than Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge.  

The Texas Longhorns pump out NBA prospects with ease. Former Longhorns Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Tristan Thompson were all top 10 picks. That doesn't mean that all 'Horns land on their feet, especially the recent crop of guards who made the jump to the pros early. William Shakespeare once said past is prologue, so Taylor could learn from the mistakes of Myck Kabongo and J'Covan Brown, two guards who made a leap before taking a long look at the potential fall.

Myck Kabongo, a mercurial point guard, played 2 seasons with the 'Horns before jumping ship in 2013, dropping 14 points in a sophomore season that was mired with NCAA allegations of inappropriate contact with an agent. He bolted for the pros after missing twenty-three games his sophomore year, went undrafted, and was last seen playing  in the NBA Developmental League with the Texas Legends before being waived after 2 games.

Isaiah Taylor against Oklahoma State (Photo: courtesy UT Athletics Photography).
Isaiah Taylor against Oklahoma State (Photo: courtesy UT Athletics Photography).

J'Covan Brown led the Big 12 in scoring his final year with the Longhorns, averaging 20 points per game, and then shined brightest on college basketball's biggest stage, averaging 22 points in the NCAA Men's Tournament his sophomore year. That did little for his NBA draft stock in 2012, as Brown went undrafted and now plays as a bench player for BK Astana in the Kazakhstan -D1 League. You'll remember Kazakhstan as being the number one importer of potassium. Isaiah Taylor, you do not want to play in Kazakhstan.

NBADraft.net currently has Taylor unlisted on their NBA Mock Draft board while players like Keifer Sykes of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay are on the board. Heck, Kiefer Sutherland probably is ranked ahead of Taylor at this point. Thank God Isaiah stayed at Texas.

4. Retaining Taylor builds Shaka Smart's credibility with recruits.

Shake Smart has already earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best coaches in college basketball and a recruiter who is loyal to his players, so we expect him to be able to land the best of the best. That said, when it comes to marketing there is nothing better than word of mouth. Taylor's endorsement of Smart will go a long way towards not only landing recruits but ensuring that many of them will stay with the Longhorns for an extended period of time. Top-tier talent plus veteran leadership usually translates to success, particularly in March Madness.

5. Staying with Texas almost guarantees that Taylor will climb up NBA draft boards. 

As stated before, we aren't guaranteeing any level of success for the Longhorns in 2015-2016. What we can bet on is that Texas will receive a fair share of media attention. All eyes will be on Smart's Longhorns, which gives Taylor a golden opportunity to impress NBA scouts. If Taylor can develop any semblance of a mid-range game, while continuing to plant his flag as a nuisance on the defensive end, then he has the chance to move up the NBA draft boards the way Cory Joseph and Avery Bradley did. Add a much more realistic level of expectations for the 2015-2016 team than ones placed on the team this past season (which will lessen the pressure and stakes for Taylor), along with the potential for success come March, and you have to believe that Isaiah Taylor and the Longhorns are both going to benefit from this extended marriage.

(Image via TexasSports.com)
(Image via TexasSports.com)

James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.

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