Rutgers Recruit Mike Taylor Learning Lessons The Hard Way

New York High School March Madness

His return from suspension boosted Boys & Girls High of Brooklyn to the Public Schools Athletic League championship of New York last week in Madison Square Garden.

A week ago, Mike Taylor ended his six-game suspension at Brooklyn's Boys & Girls High School. On Sunday, he and his teammates won the second of back-to-back Public Schools Athletic League titles under head coach Ruth Lovelace with a 62-55 victory over Lincoln at Madison Square Garden.

And this fall, he could be in the mix at the shooting guard spot for Rutgers coach Mike Rice.

"I just learned I've got to take more responsibility for my actions," said  the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Taylor, whose team will play in the New York State Federation semifinals March 26 in Albany.

"I was just mad at everybody but myself for doing that [getting suspended]. I shouldn't have been in that predicament in the first place."

Taylor committed to Rutgers on Sept. 25 while attending the North Carolina-Rutgers football game. SNY.tv broke the news of the commitment.

Boys & Girls principal Bernard Gassaway suspended Taylor on Feb. 1 for failing his first-period class, which focuses on food science.

"It was the worst feeling of my 18 years of living," Taylor said of the suspension.

That same day, Taylor sat out as Boys & Girls lost to Lincoln, 61-56.

"It was a life lesson in the real game of life for Mike because he understands that at any moment certain things can be taken away from you if you don't hold up your end of the bargain and that's being a student-athlete," Boys & Girls assistant Elmer Anderson said.

"That's not just predicated on being a student-athlete. It's just like you and I. if we don't put our work in, at a certain point we have a boss to answer to or we could get our pay docked."

Boys & Girls struggled somewhat during Taylor's absence, losing to both Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln.

"It was hurtful to see my team losing, knowing I'm supposed to be on the court helping them," Taylor said.

Said Anderson: "He can't put himself in a position to let his teammates down or those who are close to him. It's not just him, it's a reflection on his family, the coaches, the school. And then emotionally you sabotage the trust you built with everyone.

"It's a learning lesson and maybe further on in life he ‘ll be able to talk about how he needed a good swift kick in his butt by the principal to get things straight."

Taylor's wasn't the only suspension Boys & Girls had to deal with this year.

Antione Slaughter and Anthony Hemingway both missed six games in December for academic issues.

"We had other players that could play," the 5-6 Slaughter said. "Malik Nichols, Jeffland Neverson. When I came back, we played even better."

After passing a math quiz March 8, Taylor returned last Wednesday in the PSAL AA semifinals against Wings.

Then, in the championship game against Lincoln, he put up 14 points to help the Kangaroos win back-to-back titles.

"It was just a great feeling, coming back with my teammates," Taylor said. "The team is my brothers and coach is like a mother to me.

"They already accepted me back but it was a great feeling being let back in the family."

The diminutive Slaughter was named MVP for Boys & Girls, finishing with 19 points, eight in the decisive fourth quarter.

"It feels great because we did it two years in a row and it feels even better to do it your senior years because it's the last year in high school  and you got a city championship," Slaughter said.

Said Anderson of Slaughter's play: "Antione Slaughter is the best point guard in the city, and he displayed that throughout the playoffs."

After losing in last year's Federation semifinals to Christ the King, Boys & Girls will make a return trip this year.

In a few months, assuming his academics and off-the-court issues are in order, Taylor hopes to challenge for a meaningful role at Rutgers. He is part of Rice's heralded seven-man recruiting class that includes St. Anthony point guard Myles Mack, South Kent big man Derrick Randall and former Rice standout Kadeem Jack, who redshirted this spring at Rutgers.

Taylor could end up competing with current freshman Mike Poole and incoming frosh Malick Kone for time at the two guard spot behind Tyree Graham, who missed this past season with a torn ACL.

"It's going to be a fun, nice experience for me," Taylor said.

"I'm a winner. I'm a sore loser. I'm going to be competing for the spot and may the best man win. As long as I work hard in practice I should get a good amount of playing time."

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