New team, new mission for Tariq Owens

By Tom Ballato

Tariq Owens spent the last three years at St. John’s University. After transferring from Tennessee, Owens sat out a year as per NCAA rules and then went on to play two seasons for the Red Storm. “I chose St. John’s because of Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond was assistant coach, and my family is from New York. The opportunity to come home to be closer to my family was a big factor.”

At St. John’s, Owens became a defensive presence and improved his game each year.  When asked what his biggest takeaway from St. John’s was, Owens replied, “Having a leadership role and communication was important because guys on the team were from different countries, so communication was key.”

Last spring, Owens graduated with a degree in sports management and had one more season of eligibility. After testing the transfer market, Tariq ended up transferring to Texas Tech for his final season.  “I enjoyed my time at St. John’s and it was a hard choice to leave. It was a tough, but it was the best decision for me.”  Throughout the transfer process, Owens claimed, “A return to St. John’s was never out of the question. It was always between St. John’s, Maryland, and Texas Tech.”

“Last year upsetting Duke and then beating Villanova on their home floor was fun and we grew as a team, but it was down year for us.” Owens made it clear that St. John’s is headed in the right direction and he enjoyed the brotherhood he had with his former teammates and coaches.

Photo shared by Tariq Owens.

Now Tariq is ready for his last go around. “I hope to get better and improve as a player and to make a tournament run with my new team.” Getting acclimated with his new teammates hasn’t been hard according to Owens. They spend a lot of time together and really put in the necessary work. Owens has put on weight, worked on his body to get stronger, and improved his jump shot since we last saw him at St. John’s. “The culture down here is to work hard. The staff and players spend time together and they grind.”

Tariq is feeling things out as a stretch four for Texas Tech. He is going to be a defensive presence, but also be that high energy guy on the wing. With the improvements to his jump shot, Owens hopes to be utilized on the outside where he can either shoot, drive, or find an open teammate.

Former Arizona guard and Iona alum Momo Jones

By Tom Ballato

Lamont “Momo” Jones bursted into the scene in 2009, when he became a member of the Arizona Wildcats. A scoring point guard, Jones made a splash in 2011 when Arizona beat Duke, who were led by Kyrie Irving in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils were overpowered by Jones and company.

At the conclusion of the season, Jones left the program to be closer to home in New York. He committed to Iona, where he would make go on to finish a strong collegiate career. Jones finished top 3 in scoring his senior season.

I talked to Jones about his college and professional career which he has described as an unforgettable experience thus far.

Photo shared by Moms Jones. 

You began your collegiate career at Arizona. In 2011, you guys blew out Duke in the Sweet 16 to reach the Elite Eight where you lost to the National Champions UCONN Huskies by 2 points. Describe that run you guys made that season.

That run was amazing. Kind of unexplainable. I think at the start of the season we were the only ones that believed we had the ability to go that far and make some real noise nationally! We were just a group of guys that really got along and had each other’s back! It was a real brotherhood that year. It was like we had known and played with each other for years with the chemistry we had to. Most importantly we just had hungry player, guys that had something to prove and guys that wanted to be the best. We really believed we were the best team that year! Obviously we came up short, but was it one fun year!

From playing Memphis to the end of the round in Anaheim in front of basically our home crowd was amazing. At that point in our lives, I don’t think any of us had the first class treatment we received during the tournament which made it that much better!

At Arizona you played with Derrick Williams (who was the #2 pick in 2011), Solomon Hill (a first round pick), and Kyle Fogg ( an elite overseas player), who have all gone on to have great professional careers. You were also coached by Sean Miller who just started at Arizona around that time. Did you guys know from the start you had something special at Arizona?

I mean I think that first year we were all there it was hard to believe we had something special! After that freshman year and the following summer, we knew we had something. We knew we were building towards something special because we were all committed to working together and trying to turn around the ship that we knew if we stayed the course something big was going to come, as it did!

You transferred to Iona after 2011 to move closer to home in New York City to be with your family. Your first season at Iona you shared a backcourt with Scott Machado and received an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament. How did you two connect and get it to work?

As far as me and Scott go we were very familiar with each other obviously both coming up in New York and playing against each other throughout the years. Coming up I was very known and established as a young kid and throughout the years Scott had grown to have the name he did and was really doing big things with leading the country in assists and putting Iona back on the map.

I think when I came that just further helped me put Iona over that hump and break through to where they/we wanted to be. He was the assist guy and I was the scorer. I had the experience coming off a big NCAA run and being a intricate part of that run. So I brought something to the team that no one else had. I also respected the pecking order when I got there. I didn’t come with the mindset that I was better than everyone, but more so to fit in and add my talents to a team that was already good. I think in doing that helped us work together very well! I checked my ego at the door and played my part and contributed in the ways I was needed to rather then forcing things and trying to be the man because of where I was coming from.

In 2013, you were named MAAC Player of the Year and were the nation’s third-leading scorer with 22.6 points per game. Did that help you get any invites to summer league or training camps?

I had my fair share of workouts for the league, went to mini camp with Portland and Dallas. I definitely think being one of the top scorers in the country helped with the process, although it didn’t go how I would have liked it, the league wasn’t my only dream and so at the end of the day those things still helped me to live out my dream of playing professionally. Playing over the water and experiencing things I never could have dreamed of as a little kid.

Where have you gone on to play professionally since you graduated Iona?

Since Iona, I’ve played in Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Montenegro, and Germany! I’m actually in my second year in Germany! Last season, I played in Weissenfels, Germany for a not so good team, but finished 4th in the league in scoring which helped me sign a two year contract this summer to play for Ludwigsburg which was final four team in Germany and in the basketball championship league last year! So it is safe to say my career is going great and I’m still scoring that rock at a high clip!

I’ve been fortunate enough to have played in 25 countries in my first 5 years after college. Once again something I a kid from Harlem could never have dreamed of in a million years!

Where are you now and what do you hope to accomplish this season?

Right now I’m actually headed to Italy for a few days to participate in a preseason tournament out in Sardinia, Italy. It’s actually my first time in Italy so I’m excited about that! As far as my goals for this season it’s to win, to get back to the playoffs, and continue to get better. Be better then I was a year ago. Right now my coach has me focusing solely on the defensive side of the ball, so I’m hoping to cause havoc with that part of my game this year. I have a 3 month old daughter and my girlfriend is out here this season, so I’m just trying to maintain being a family man, managing my time as well as I can between my career and family is one of my goals as well this year. Of course it’s always a goal to be one of the top players if not the top player/point guard in my league! That’s always been the goal and will forever be the goal!

LIU Brooklyn’s very own Joel Hernandez

LIU
Photo shared by Joel Hernandez.

By Tom Ballato

It has been a crazy ride for Joel Hernandez throughout his career at LIU Brooklyn. In 2016, the Blackbirds were gearing up for a big season, but the season took a big hit when Hernandez dislocated his thumb the first game of the season.  That thumb injury costed him the remainder of the season which allowed him to be redshirted.

At the end of the 2017 season, LIU hired Derek Kellogg to be their next head coach. With Joel coming back for his redshirt senior year, the LIU Blackbirds were primed and ready to compete. Kellogg did a nice job adding two freshman and four transfers to a team that already had talent returning.

LIU finished the season 18-17 overall with a conference record of 10-8. They were lead by Hernandez who averaged 20.8 points per game. Their finish placed them 4th in their conference tournament. LIU went on to beat St. Francis and Fairleigh Dickinson and then  to face regular season champions of the NEC conference Wagner. An electric game from the start, LIU lead by Hernandez’s 32 points defeated Wagner to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

I talked with Joel Hernandez who recently played for the National team in the Dominican Republic and asked him about his experience at LIU and his professional career thus far.

Describe your time at LIU? What are somethings that you guys are proud to have accomplished?

My time at LIU has been filled with many mixed emotions. I’ve been frustrated, gone through injuries, didn’t get along with past coaches, felt like I should’ve been playing more, but I still met some great people. Me getting an extra year and having coach Kellogg as a coach was the best thing that ever happened to me. We put trust in each other that ultimately got us an NEC championship. That has been my goal ever since I was a freshman and to say that I accomplished that on my last go around is a great feeling.

How was the conference tournament that you guys won last year? You had fight and ultimately ended up making the tournament.

The conference tournament was tough as it is every year. At the same time, I knew what it took because I’ve seen it for five years straight. I was determined to give it everything I had for 3 games. In the semi finals, we were playing FDU and we were down 10. I remember my dreams just slipping away from me. We eventually starting chipping the lead down and we were down by 1 or 2 points I can’t remember, but I got a steal and breakaway dunk and then FDU called a timeout. I have never heard the WRAC that loud ever. The fans played a big part in that win. Then the championship game comes around and we’re playing Wagner who was undefeated at home. A lot of people were doubting us because they were the #1 seed. It’s never easy playing Wagner, but I wanted to win the championship so bad. I played with a different type of animal in me that game and my teammates followed suit.

After you graduated did you get any invites or workouts?

After I graduated, my agency had a pro day where we worked out in front of all NBA teams and scouts then I had workouts with the Suns and Spurs.

Your first year professionally and you are playing in the South Korea. What has been experience been like so far and what are your goals this year?

I’m playing in South Korea for my first year. The experience has been great so far. I’m looking forward to having a good season and making a playoff run this year.

Taking a stand with former Michigan St. alum Anthony Ianni

By Tom Ballato

Everyone has a story. For Anthony Ianni, his story goes beyond the basketball court. Anthony was diagnosed with autism and many doctors believed that he would not be able to live a normal life. Anthony set out to prove people wrong, but it didn’t come without obstacles. He was bullied for being different, but that didn’t stop Anthony from chasing his goals and dreams. Anthony became the first Division I basketball player in NCAA history with autism. He transferred to Michigan St. and played under coach Tom Izzo. He played for some really good teams while in college and after his playing days were over he became a motivational speaker.

I first heard of Anthony’s story from friend and Michigan St. alum Kevin Negron. Kevin shared with me that everyone knew Anthony, that he was a fan favorite, and he had a special story. I reached out to Anthony about his story and I also got to ask him some questions about Michigan St. basketball.

Ianni
Photo of Kevin Negron and Anthony Ianni at Michigan St. Both are MSU alumni.

From what I’ve read Coach Izzo was a role model for you. What is your relationship with him like?

Ianni: Coach Izzo and I have a very good relationship. Like with all of his players, current or former, he always has my back on things and he’s always checking in on me to make sure things are going well and that my speaking career is still going well. He separates himself from other coaches just by the relationships he’s developed with his players and the family atmosphere that he’s created not only at our program, but throughout the university.

You were on some great teams during your time at Michigan State. Last guy off the bench that all the MSU fans knew. Describe the atmosphere in the Berslin Center and your time on the team.

Ianni: There’s no other college basketball atmosphere that compares to the Breslin Center. It’s our student section, “The Izzone”, that makes the atmosphere at the Breslin so crazy and above every other place in the country. That’s including other places UNC, Duke, Kentucky and Kansas. We have, in my opinion, the best fans in the country and they’re the reason why playing at the Bres is so tough to play at. As far as my time in the program, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. It was always my dream to play at Michigan State and be on scholarship. Both of those things were able to happen for me and I’m incredibly blessed for the opportunity I got to wear that jersey. Every time I put on my jersey I took a lot of pride in it because I knew that playing for the name on the front was a heck of a lot more important than the one on the back. In my opinion, there’s not a person who took more pride in wearing the Green and White more than I did.

You played on the same team with Draymond Green. How was he as a teammate and did you see him becoming a star like he is today?

Ianni: Day Day was an incredible teammate. There’s a reason why in my opinion he’s one of the greatest leaders in the program’s history. He treated others around him with respect and he always had everyone’s back. Whether you were a coach, player or team manager he was there for you. That’s the one thing people don’t see with him today because all they see is what he does on the court, but if you got to know him off the court, he’d be your favorite right away. I knew just from playing against him in practice and seeing how hard he worked, I knew he was going to do great things in the NBA. Right when he was taken in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft, I quickly thought to myself that the other teams that passed up on him, are quickly going to regret it.

Now lets move on to your person life. You were diagnosed with Autism at a young age and doctors told your parents you wouldn’t graduate, become an athlete, and believed eventually you would have to live in a group home. You were also bullied for being different when you were younger. How did you overcome all the bullying and limitations you were given?

I endured a lot of bullying and disrespect from a lot of people when I was in school. A lot of the bullying was because of my autism, I would say and do things different than others, and my height was another reason because I was six feet tall and wore a size 13 shoe at 11 years old. No matter how tough things would get, I would just let my actions to the talking for me because I was taught to never use my hands, feet or words. Just let my actions do the talking for me and that’s what I did.

Autism is very big today and there is still a lot we don’t know about it. Did you have to step outside of your comfort zone to play basketball and become a motivational speaker?

Ianni: Early on in my basketball days, I had to step out of my comfort zone because I was a shy kid and I knew that I had to get along with my teammates and play a team game. As far as motivational speaking goes, I never had to step out of my comfort zone or anything of that matter because I knew that this is where I belong and this is what I wanted to do. Plus playing in front of big crowds in college help me get used to speaking/performing to crowds as a speaker.

Today you are a motivational speaker across the country and an anti-bully advocate. Tell us about what you do and is this something you always wanted to do? What would your message be to children with Autism or disabilities whose goals or dreams still might be limited by others?

Ianni: So I’m a National Motivational Speaker and I do all of my work through the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. I’m on the road at most 5 days a week and I speak to schools, colleges/universities, conferences, business and sports teams about my life with autism. I do speeches on different topics such as Autism, bullying, transitioning and motivational talks. So some people might just think I’m only an Anti-Bullying speaker, but I’m actually more then that and I wanted to be more then a one dimensional speaker. At first being a speaker wasn’t even on my list of what I wanted to do after college. I actually wanted to work in NCAA athletics just like my father has for over 30 years.

How sweet it is: Cornell’s run to the Sweet 16 and more with Jeff Foote

By Tom Ballato

For those who love March Madness, live for the upsets, in 2010 Cornell did that with their run to the Sweet 16. Cornell plays in the Ivy League, where at the time the winner of league play received an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Cornell won the Ivy League three year in a row (2008, 2009, and 2010). In 2008 and 2009, Cornell lost in the first round of the tournament, but you could tell that something special was brewing. In 2010, Cornell finished 29-5 overall and 13-1 in conference, and upset Temple and Wisconsin before losing to Kentucky. I talked with former Big Red center Jeff Foote about his career, his time at Cornell, and the magical run they had.

You played at Cornell for 3 years after redshirting and transferring from St. Bonaventure your freshman year. Describe your time at Cornell playing under coach Donahue.

Foote: Playing for Coach D was awesome. He worked hard to build up a good culture and brought in guys that really built on top of each other and fed off each others success. When I transferred in, the first thing I noticed was the difference in the feel and the dynamic of the team. There was a lot of very healthy competition, and it was fueled by the older guys. They constantly challenged everything in practice, the weight room, and off the court. The team was a lot closer. That continued to develop and with each incoming class it became tighter. We wanted to be around each other and were genuinely best friends.

From a playing and scheme perspective, coach Donahue may be the best X’s and O’s coaches I have ever played for. I think our offensive efficiency and numbers as a team can attest to that. He also did a great job of tailoring the offense to the personnel. If you go back and watch the three years I played, each year our offense was different. Some of the overarching concepts were similar (get good open 3’s, play with spacing, beat teams with timing and movement), but the ins and outs were much different. My first year I came off the bench, and the offense revolved around our guard play (Louis, Gore, and Witt mostly) with two big guys who could shoot and space the floor (Kreef and JHart). My second year though, the offense started changing due to necessity. Louis went down, Gore went down, teams were keying off on Witt, and Ski was just a freshman still learning the offense. Meanwhile I had gotten bigger and stronger and was more confident, so the offense started to flow through me a little more. Then my final year, we had been together so long that the offense was extremely versatile. Louis could take over, Witt, myself, Reeves, etc..I think a further testament to Coach D was his decision to bring Jon into games more while Alex was battling injuries, and upon recognizing the tremendous effect he had on the game (Jon shot a very high percentage from three and spaced the opposing defenses so much) to eventually start him.

You made the NCAA Tournament each year you were there. In 2008 and 2009, you lost in the first round of the tournament, but 2010 you reached the Sweet 16. Cornell was ranked #12 and you guys upset #5 Temple and then #4 Wisconsin. 

How were you guys prepared so well for each game being the underdogs from the Ivy League Conference that only gets one bid to the tournament? Describe the emotions and feelings that went on with you and your team after each win.

Foote: With regard to your second question’s first part, we were prepared so well because we were seasoned. The first two tournament losses (the stomping we received by Stanford and the closer, but still beating we took from Mizzou) prepared us for the atmosphere and the questions/media/distractions. We were going in loose, focused, and hungry. We had all talked in the preseason, and the seniors on the team knew it would be our last shot at something great, so we all pushed each other to get into the best shape, get better, and stay motivated throughout the year. We had some absolute battles in preseason, and the competitive fire in each of us led to our games being very high quality. We hated to lose, and that included any pickup game, drill in practice, lifting competition,  and smash bros fights (video games). At the same time you had a brotherly dynamic. We loved each other, and had each other’s backs for everything. So because of this we grew tremendously and made our run.

As for the emotions after each win, there weren’t many right away honestly. There was certainly happiness and joy, but after each one we did not want to allow ourselves to lose any focus. It was a “Who’s next” mentality after the wins. I think there is a lot of nostalgia about those times now from everyone, but while it was going on it was more a drive to go as far as we could. However, I know that after the Kentucky loss there was a lot of emotion, a lot of us recognizing that we were done and that special group of guys wouldn’t get to play another game in the Cornell uniform anymore.

I have to mention your teammates Lou Dale, Ryan Whitman, and Jon Jacques etc., you guys really had something special. Tell me a little about that.

Foote: You mentioned myself, Lou, Jon, and Ryan for having something special, but it was much deeper than that. Us four, AT, Reeves, Dre, Max, Ski, Wire, Aro, Pete are a band of brothers, that still to this day talk on a daily basis. We have a major group chat, go visit each other often, and still cherish the brotherhood that we have.

You played in Israel, Spain, the NBA Developmental League, for the New Orleans Hornets, and Lithuania after you graduated from Cornell. You signed with a top Euroleague team Maccabi Tel Aviv and eventually earned a call up form the New Orleans Hornets in the NBA. What was that journey like?

Foote: As for my professional career, I bounced around a lot. I loved playing, but after my season in Lithuania and my back surgery, I couldn’t move the same. I played one more year in Springfield, but I knew my time was likely up. Following that I went to law school at the University of Miami, and during my 3 years I worked as a graduate assistant coach under Coach Jim Larranaga.

What do you do now? 

Foote: As for now, I work as an in-house counsel for a Real Estate Development Portfolio – Gator Investments. (owned primarily by fellow Cornell grad, James Goldsmith and his brother Bill)

Cornell was a team that shocked a lot of people in 2010, but for some it was no surprise what they accomplished. They were the first Ivy League team to make it to the Sweet 16, set an Ivy record with 29 wins, and were the top 3 point shooting team in the country.

TBT: Team Challenge ALS

By Tom Ballato

The past few years in the TBT (The Basketball Tournament) Tournament, we have seen Team Challenge ALS compete at the highest level. They came one basket away from taking down the now four time champions Overseas Elite to win the two million dollar prize. For those who don’t know what the TBT Tournament is, it is a 5 on 5 winner take all basketball tournament consisting of former college and NBA players and top overseas players.

Team Challenge ALS was created by Sean Marshall who played basketball at Boston College. While at Boston College, he roomed with Pete Frates, who was a baseball star at the college. Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS at 27 years old and has done so much to raise awareness for this disease which includes creating the Ice Bucket Challenge with his friend Pat Quinn. He has raised millions dollars to help research and find a cure someday for ALS. Team Challenge ALS plays for Pete and all those living with ALS.

I have watched and rooted for Team Challenge ALS for the past couple of years and talked with Sean Marshall of the team to find out what they are all about.

You created and play for Team Challenge ALS because Pete Frates was your roommate at BC where you played in college. Besides him being a great athlete, could you describe Pete and your time with him in college. 

Marshall: I met Pete freshman year and we were friends throughout our four years there. He has always been someone who could change your mood in a positive way. If I was down he always found a way to turn that around and he has that affect on everyone. It doesn’t surprise met that he has done so much for ALS awareness because he’s the type of person that will accomplish what he set out to accomplish. I’m honored to play for someone so admirable.

You’ve been quoted as saying, “We play for a community”. How did you find a roster willing to sacrifice possibly earning money in the TBT Tournament for this great cause?

Marshall: Everyone that has played for our team I’ve hand selected and have a personal relationship with. That was my number one goal, was to form a team of great athletes but more importantly great character guys. Some of the guys on our team I’ve known for 15 years and it wasn’t a challenge to get them on board to represent something bigger than ourself.

What have you learned since creating this team about people living with ALS, your supporters, yourself, and others?

Marshall: The first year was an amazing journey making it all the way to the finals. Through the process we learned that the team was much bigger that just Pete. There were so many people that were connected to ALS that were supporting us and putting their hope in us. After the first year, it helped us realize that we had to involve more people in the ALS community. That’s why I came up with the idea to have different names of ALS patients on the back of our jerseys this year. The disease absolutely sucks and what I’ve learned is that these people are so strong to fight ALS. They inspire me with every story I hear. I’ll continue to put out a fighting team in their honor.

Will Team Challenge ALS return in 2019 and can we expect and roster additions?

Marshall: We are returning for 2019 TBT. We made the final 8 this year, but it was a major let down because we really felt we had a team to win it. We just didn’t click the same way we did the previous summer. At this point, we are not sure what additions we will be making, but I am sure that we will put together a team that people will be proud of.

You’ve played professionally overseas in Greece, France, Turkey, etc.. Where will you be playing this upcoming season and what do you expect to bring to the team?

Marshall: I have not signed with a team for this year yet. After sitting down with my wife, we decided that I would spend a little bit more time home this summer and signed later than I usually do. It’s a risk to pass up on jobs early, but I believe that everything works itself out the way it’s supposed to. I will sign soon when the right opportunity presents itself.

If you get a chance go follow Team Challenge ALS @TMchallengeALS and donate to the cause they play for.

Taylor King rides off into the sunset

By Tom Ballato

Taylor King’s career has taken him all over the world, but it all started in California. A high school All-American, King was known for scoring and knocking down 3’s. He verbally committed to UCLA before his freshman year of college, de-commited, and wound up playing in Durham for Coach Mike Krzyzewski. After one season, King decided to transfer to Villanova and play for Coach Jay Wright. After sitting out a year, he only played one season before leaving the team due to personal reasons. King was going to play at USC, but decided to enroll in NAIA school Concordia University Irvine to finish his collegiate career. People often wonder why this highly touted recruit never stuck around, so I caught up with Taylor and asked him about his playing career.

tk
Photo shared by Taylor King. 

 

You scored over 3,000 points in high school, named a McDonald’s All-American, and Mr. Basketball State of California. What gave you the confidence to be such a prolific scorer with range at such a young age?

TK: I was big at a young age, I played the 5 (center) in elementary and middle school until I was 7th going into 8th grade. I was able to use both hands inside and be a great post player, left/right hand hook shots etc.. When I got to high school I knew I could shoot so shooting 3’s, off the dribble, posting up, getting to the foul line, rebounding (especially offensively), are all the ways I was able to score. I just had that killer mindset that no one could guard me no matter what.

You played one season at Duke before transferring to Villanova. After sitting out a year, you played one season at Villanova before leaving due to personal reasons and returned home. What was your time like at each of those schools?

TK: I enjoyed my time at both Duke and Villanova. I played for two hall of famers and it gave me a chance to play at the highest level of college hoops. I played and did ok at both places, had some big games, played in huge games, and to be in big time schools with lots of hype around those two programs was very special. It’s a brotherhood at both places and that was fun to be apart of and I still keep in contact with guys from both schools so it continues.

You had off the court problems, were away from basketball, and lost love of the game. What influenced you to go back to the sport you’ve played your entire life?

TK: When I left Villanova and came home, I was dealing with some family issues and personal issues. I was just in a bad way with myself and the game wasn’t really something I was feeling anymore. A few weeks past, maybe a month and I went to my high school Mater Dei and played pick up basketball. There were all pros there, guys who currently play in the NBA and overseas, and I killed it. I was the best player in the gym by far. My high school coach had a conversation with me and said I needed to play  and he would help get me connected with another college. I was going to attend USC, but that didn’t pan out so I ended up going to a powerhouse NAIA at Concordia University Irvine. I was first team All-American and did my thing over there and enjoyed it very much.

Your career overseas brought you to Canada, England, Taiwan, Japan, Iran, Lithuania, Mexico, Argentina, and the NBA G League. How would you say your career went?

TK: Yeah, I mean I played in all those countries, had stints in Iraq and China as well as those other countries. To say my career wasn’t short of crazy would be an understatement. Should I have been in the NBA? Absolutely should have, but I ended up in 11 different countries, over 4 continents, and saw parts of the world that most would only dream of seeing. To play the game I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into for a living is a great accomplishment in my eyes. So I am thankful for everything in my career.

You recently retired from basketball. In your Instagram post you said that your focus is to help younger athletes, go back and get your degree, and to be a good coach. Could you see yourself becoming a college coach eventually?

TK: I did recently retire, and started my own training company shooting coach/skill development etc.. I am an assistant high school coach at a great high school and also coach at a club AAU program as well. I am finishing my degree in January so I have a bunch of stuff going on. What I wanted to do is be a head coach in high school and if college coaching comes about then sure I wouldn’t mind.

It’s great to see Taylor retiring on his own terms. People can say what they want about his career, but it was nothing short of successful. You can check out Taylor’s training company at www.taylorkingbasketball.com.