The spring signing period began today and Jahmel Taylor and Mike Anderson are expected to make their verbal commitments with Washington official.
Here’s our story on the incoming recruits.
Had a chance to talk with Taylor. He’s a late-bloomer who capitalized on a big year at a new school.
The 5-11 and 160-pound point guard from Los Angeles averaged 22.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals while leading Pacific Hills High to a CIF state championship Division IV title.
Here’s the interview.
(How are you feeling?) “I’m feeling great. I’m very excited about the opportunity I have at Washington. I’m eager to play for a great coach, a great system and great program. I feel I can make a big contribution to the team. I hope the school is very proud of me being able to attend and hopefully I can produce.”
(When was your last game?) “The last game I played was the (CIF state championship Division IV) championship game. I’m playing in May in an all-star game in Washington. I feel that’s going to be great talent there. I’ll be able to show Washington fans a little of what they’ll be seeing the next four years.”
(It must have been nice to win your last high-school game) “It was a great feeling knowing that my last game I ended on top and we won the state championship. It was really exciting. It was a great feeling. And knowing I won with a group of guys that really had my back from Day 1.”
(Was this your first year at Pacific?) “This was my first year at Pacific Hills. My last two years I was at Sierra Canyon and I transferred out of there his year for my senior season.”
(Why did you transfer?) “I felt Pacific Hills offered a great opportunity as far as academics and athletics. Knowing coach Ivan Barahona, his system and one of my best friends was there. So knowing that I could come here for my last year I could just learn and also grow as a player.”
(And it seems like everything turned out well for you and the team) “Everything turned out great. It was a lot that I really gained from my one year here, but it felt like I’ve been here for four years knowing that the school had our backs and just knowing I had a family to go to each day at school”.
(How did you Washington come into the picture?) “It was tough. The beginning of senior year, I really didn’t have too many offers. This one came kind of towards the middle of the season. It was during the January period when coach (Lamont) Smith came to one of my games. From then on I kind of started talking to coach Smith. When coach Romar came to the game on Jan. 21, we got the victory and after the game he offered me a scholarship. I was very excited. I had my family there with me.
(Any other offers?) “I had a few. I had Fresno State, Long Beach and UC Santa Barbara.”
(How would you describe yourself as a basketball player?) “I’m an aggressive player and a player that will do anything to win. I feel I have tremendous scoring ability, knowing how to set up players and just getting everybody involved. And also being able to score. I’m a great defensive player with getting you steals and things like that. For my size I’m a great rebounder and I feel I can provide a lot of leadership.”
(Are you a pass-first point guard or a scoring point guard?) “If the situation calls for me to score, then that’s what I’ll do. If the situation calls for me to get the assists, that’s what I’ll do. If you need assists during the game, I can offer you that. But if you need scoring – say if we’re struggling – I can get that done.”
(What do you know about the Huskies?) “They have a group of guys that are really good on defense. Coach Romar pushes them hard. I know C.J. Wilcox is a team leader. Abdul Gaddy was there. Of course this is his senior year and next year Andrew Andrews is there. I feel that with this group of guys and guys that are coming in, we’ll have great chemistry. If you look at the guys that are coming in, we’re aggressive players. We play hard and they also want to win. With the group of guys that’s at Washington, I know they’re hungry players. I just feel that once we get it all together, I think we’ll do a lot of damage to the league and against anybody that we’ll play.”
(Did you visit Washington?) “I’m visiting actually in May after the All-Star game. It’s May 12, I believe. I’ve been able to watch them play USC when they were out here in California. And I also watched them on TV when they played Arizona State. From what I’ve seen so far, I really see a lot of potential in a team for next year and guys that are really hungry to make a statement.”
(It sounds like you took a leap of faith picking Washington) “Yeah definitely. I would say committing to Washington, I kind of went on faith. Like I said, I take my visit next month, but talking to coach Romar made me feel at home. I really felt comfortable with him. Once I’m out there I think I’ll be more comfortable knowing that he’s one of the leaders and he can help guide me during my time out there.”
(When are you going to sign?) “I’m talking to my family about it right now. We’re either scheduling probably for (Wednesday) or Sunday after church. We’ll have the whole congregation come together and do it there.”
(What do you know about the UW class that’s coming in?) “I know Nigel Williams-Goss. He’s a point guard at Findlay right now. He really led that group. From his freshman year he’s really been one guy that I could see doing well. I’ve known about him since about the sxith grade. I just see a lot of potential in him. Growing up he’s really delivered. He was a McDonald’s All-American. I feel like playing with him will be great. i know Darin (Johnson) is coming in. He’s another aggressive player. He also does a lot of things with his size. He’s about 6-6, 6-7. He has a lot of ability. I feel like with the aggression that’s coming in next year, it will speed up the team as far as tempo on the court. Defensively we’ll be a lot stronger knowing everybody can lock down.”
(Did things click for you this season and if so why?) “Yeah they did. My junior year I got hurt. I came out kind of wanting to make a statement and show that I’m an elite player. My sophomore year I had a great year and going into my junior year I was on the verge of climbing even higher and then I fractured my ankle. Knowing that it was going to take time to come back 100 percent was really my motivation for this year. It gave me the motivation to be hungry every day and show guys I can play at the next level.”
(Did you play at all your junior season?) “I played as a junior, but it wasn’t the same as my sophomore year and this year.”
(When did you hurt your ankle?) “I fractured my ankle right before the season started. I only missed two games, but it was a long process to heal. I actually rushed it. My dad wanted me to sit out a little more to get fully healed, but I wanted to be out there for my team and kind of rushed it.”