"Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the big leagues with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press will think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob." -- Bull Durham
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas' starting point guard, passes the eyeball test.
At 6'3 and 185 pounds, he's a prototypical point guard, an excellent athlete with great lateral quickness, good body control in the air and long arms. He can thread the needle on the pick-and-roll, drive-and-kick to three-point shooters and run the fast break.
But for every great play he makes, he'll make a decision that will leave Bill Self with his head in his hands. As the Jayhawks' primary ball-handler, he averages 4.7 assists and 4.3 turnovers a game.
Even more baffling, Taylor is one of the most experienced guards in college basketball. As a sophomore, he was a key role player for a Kansas team built around Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry. As a junior, he logged heavy minutes playing off of the Morris twins.
In a college game where most of the best players are underclassmen, there's really no excuse for a senior point guard to be as careless with the basketball as Taylor is. And if he were a finished product, NBA teams might be more willing to overlook his long list of off-the-court indiscretions.
In 2009, Taylor was one of the key figures in an on-campus brawl between the Jayhawks' football and basketball teams, missing four weeks after injuring his hand throwing a punch. Shortly after, on his Twitter account, he charmingly posted the explanation that if "n***** be muggin me ... you know i'm muggin back."
Playing with an edge is one thing, but after being suspended for violating team rules in the middle of last season as well as the beginning of this one, it makes him look like a head case. And as Crash Davis explained in Bull Durham, pro teams don't have much time for foolishness from marginal players. If Taylor wants to get away with running bits, he needs to play like an All-American candidate.
Kansas, who can't really run offense through their best player, junior big man Thomas Robinson, needs Taylor to play to his potential. They only have one other guy, Elijah Johnson, who can create offense for others. The Jayhawks' season, as well as Taylor's pro prospects, will depend on his ability to play under control.
6'9 junior power forward
- Shot creation: Great athlete who can use size/explosiveness to finish over the top of smaller defenders. Not a great ball-handler, but can create space for a floater and jump-hook w/spin move and ability to contort body in air. Still more comfortable finishing than creating own shot, but has improved rapidly in first year as a main option.
- Defense: A prototypical NBA power forward with foot-speed to defend on the perimeter and strength to hold position on the low block. Capable of playing both interior positions at the next level. Averaging 1.3 blocks and 1.2 steals this season.
- Outside shot: Doesn't look for the jumper, but shows decent mechanics at the free throw line (shooting 71.4 percent this season). A consistent 15-20 footer will make him a frontline 4, and an extremely rich man, at the next level.
- Passing: Reasonably skilled and can pass out of double teams but has only average court awareness. Averaging 1.7 assists and 2.4 turnovers a game this season.
- Rebounding: A phenomenal rebounder who combines exceptional athleticism with a high motor: averaging 11.4 rebounds a game as a junior.
- Best case: An excellent defensive big man capable of playing both interior positions while averaging 10-15 points without being a primary offensive option -- Serge Ibaka.
- Worst case: A solid third big man whose offensive skill level doesn't merit a starting spot on a good team -- Chris Wilcox.
6'3 senior point guard
- Shot creation: Excellent ball-handler capable of penetrating fairly easily. Draws a lot of fouls (6.8 free throw attempts as a senior) w/great body control and long arms. Needs to become more consistent w/either floater or pull-up jumper to improve offensive efficiency: shooting 44.7 percent from field this season, including a 3-13 effort against Kentucky.
- Defense: Capable of defending any guard 6'4 and under, averaging 1.1 steals a game this season.
- Outside shot: Doesn't have the most fundamentally sound release, but knocking down three-pointers at extremely high clip (57.1 percent) this year. Comfortable playing off the ball as a four-year contributor on some excellent Kansas squads.
- Passing: An excellent passer with good size at 6'3, but makes far too many careless mistakes. 4.3 turnover average must go down in Big 12 play.
- Rebounding: Athletic but career rebound average (2.1) depressed by playing with so many NBA big men in Lawrence.
- Best case: An effective combo guard capable of playing on or off the ball and defending multiple backcourt positions -- Delonte West.
- Worst case: With shaky floor game, a jack-of-all-trades but master-of-none 6'3 guard unable to carve out a role in an NBA rotation -- Daniel Ewing.
Guys worth keeping an eye on
Elijah Johnson -- 6'4 junior guard. After spending two years as a reserve, has emerged as an effective contributor on both sides of the floor. A decent athlete with a good assist to turnover ratio (1.54) for size, but will need to improve outside shot and mid-range game. Will be a primary offensive option next season after the departures of Taylor and Robinson.
Justin Wesley -- 6'9 sophomore forward. A transfer from Lamar, has shown athleticism at both interior positions while flashing potential for decent skill-set in a limited amount of minutes. Few coaching staffs are better than Kansas at shaping raw big men -- Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Aldrich, the Morris twins, Robinson -- into NBA-caliber players.
Kevin Young -- 6'8 junior forward. A transfer from Loyola Marymount, has potential to be a replacement-level small forward at the next level. Capable of defending the position and displayed a good-looking three-point stroke (going 2-3) against Ohio State. Will need to consistently knock down three-pointers while adding weight and improving ball skills in time in Lawrence.