2023 Recruit RJ Taylor Chooses UNI For the ‘Winning Culture’
High school basketball players don't typically commit to their chosen college program until they've played part of the way through their senior season, or completed it for that matter. Especially when they've received a plethora of mid-major NCAA Division I scholarship offers.
RJ Taylor is not most high school basketball players.
The all-state guard from Grand Blanc, Michigan decided just under two weeks ago that he'd be playing for the UNI Panthers after graduating in 2023, as he shared on his Instagram and Twitter profiles.
Standing at 5'11, Taylor has found a variety of ways to impact the game, despite his lack of size. Over his junior season, he averaged 17.1 points per game and 4 assists per game en route to the Michigan state championship game in Division 1 (the classification for the state's largest schools). He set a state championship game record as well, shooting 7-10 from three and scoring 28 of the Bobcats' 58 points.
This is what he told me about his game on last week's episode of Cornstalks and Sports Talk (which you can find on Apple, Spotify, or listen live on KOEL.com every Saturday morning at 9).
I feel like I'm an energizer bunny. I can pick up (opposing players) full-court (on defense). I can guard. Offensively, I like to push the pace. I like to get out in transition and find open teammates before me. When things settle down and I have the matchup I want, I can attack it and get a basket. ... Most importantly, I just try to win. That will always come first to me.
By the sounds of it, all the winning the Panthers and Coach Ben Jacobson have done is what drew Taylor to Cedar Falls:
Doing research on what they've done, it was very impressive -- even winning the (Missouri Valley Conference championship) this year.
He added the following quote in a conversation with Max Feldman of Made Hoops:
And, to no one's surprise, Taylor said that the atmosphere in the Panther basketball program is that of a family:
That part of it was a no-brainer -- the staff and the players, everyone is so close to each other. ... I got to see that first-hand in the fall when I went on my visit. ... What really stood out too, is that they made it known that they wanted me. ... In the fall before my visit they came to Michigan four-straight weeks to watch me in open gym. Even througout the summer, they recruited me really well. I really liked that.
Combine it all and you've got the reason why Taylor made his college decision a year early:
Obviously, I committed a little earlier than most do in 2023, but I felt like I really knew where I wanted to go. I didn't want to wait on it. ... It was in my heart that I wanted to come to UNI.