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On Target

Taylor’s Success Is Completion of Long Road Back to College Hoops

Jamese Taylor returned to college basketball after a three-year layoff and now is among the scoring and rebounding leaders for St. Louis Community College through 13 games.
Jamese Taylor returned to college basketball after a three-year layoff and now is among the scoring and rebounding leaders for St. Louis Community College through 13 games.

Jamese Taylor isn’t your prototypical forward.

At just 6-1, Taylor is used to having opposing post men tower over him while angling for shots and battling for rebounds for the St. Louis Community College men’s basketball team.

But that hasn’t kept Taylor from being perhaps the best-kept secret for the Archers thus far this season.

Through 13 games, Taylor, a freshman from Fort Zumwalt North High School, is third on the Archers in scoring with 9.9 points per game and is second in rebounding with 6.7 boards per contest.

“I think Jamese Taylor has been the biggest surprise on our basketball team,” head coach Randy Albrecht said. “We didn’t know a lot about him, but we invited him to some open gyms. He came out. He practiced with us and won a starting position.”

Taylor took a circuitous path to both St. Louis Community College and collegiate basketball. Taylor last played basketball competitively during the 2006-2007 school year, as a senior at Fort Zumwalt North. Taylor, who was a multi-sport athlete in high school, then went to Southeast Missouri State to run track and play basketball. But his time at SEMO was brief, and he did not appear on the court for the Indians.

In the three years following, Taylor left school and went to work.

“I worked a lot of places,” Taylor said. “Goodwill, Walmart, Radio Shack. It was a tough road back (to basketball),” Taylor said.

The basketball bug bit Taylor again this past summer, and his efforts to re-enroll in college began. But all of the college coaches Taylor contacted insisted that he would need to re-establish himself at a junior college first.

Enter STLCC and Albrecht, who was limited in his recruiting time due the districtwide consolidation of athletics.

After joining STLCC, Taylor reached out to Albrecht and assistant coach Ken Libby.

“I had talked to Coach Albrecht two years ago, but this is the year we got together,” Taylor said. “He put me on a summer team and then onto this squad.”

Despite having four years of rust to knock off since his last game, it didn’t take Taylor long to impress the STLCC coaching staff.

Taylor scored at least 10 points in five of his first six games with the Archers, including a career-high 21 points against Kaskaskia College on Nov. 19. While his offensive production has been stellar, it’s Taylor’s defensive performance that has made the greatest impression on his coaches.

“The most impressive thing about him has been his rebounding,” Albrecht said. “He’s only 6-1, and there are usually five or six people on the court that are bigger than he is.”

For Taylor, size becomes an issue of mind over matter. By outworking his opponents and maintaining superior positioning, he has been able to flourish despite his comparatively diminutive stature.

“My main thing is any ball I see, I go get it,” Taylor said. “Every time I think that, I know every one out of three chances, the ball is going to be in my hands.”

Due to the amount of time off for Taylor, and the limited exposure he received prior to joining the Archers, getting a read on just how productive he’ll become has been difficult to determine.

“We’ve been really pleased with Jamese, and we’re not really sure where his ceiling is, because having been out so long, (it’s hard to) know how that’s going to work out,” Albrecht said.

If his production continues at its current rate, his future with the Archers will work out just fine.