Jan. 9, 2013 is a day Beaver Country Day’s Jacquil Taylor recalls vividly.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” The 6-foot-10-inch senior center said. “I remember I went up to block a shot, I came down and I just felt pain right away. I don’t exactly remember how it happened, but I definitely remember that pain.”
Taylor broke his foot against Worcester Academy that evening, forcing him to miss nine months of on-court action and the ever-important spring-of-junior-year AAU season.
“No question in my mind if he had played AAU basketball and never gotten injured he’d be a Top 75 player [in the nation], easy,” BCD coach Juan Figueroa said.
Instead of sulking, Taylor used his rehabilitation period to his advantage.
“Mostly throughout the time, I used it to get my upper body stronger and become more physically ready for the next level,” Taylor said. “There’s a saying, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ and I think going through that made me stronger.”
Taylor, who started at Cambridge Rindge & Latin before transferring to the Chestnut Hill prep school, has had his mind set on the next level since he signed his national letter of intent in late November to attend Purdue University. He’s already a terrific shot blocker and has a soft touch around the basket. He possess finesse on the court most players his size at his age simply don’t have.
“He has great touch. Jacquil Taylor has a huge, huge upside,” Figueroa said. “He’s got great touch; in practice he makes threes effortlessly. He’s just highly skilled. A 6-10 kid with great, impeccable timing, the way he blocks shots, he’s a special kid.”
Figueroa added Taylor has finally gotten back to elite playing shape, over a year removed from his foot injury. He showed it Saturday by scoring 21 points and recording a triple-double (with rebounds and blocks) in Beaver’s come-from-behind victory over Rivers. Yet his stroke from the free throw line, knocking down nine of 12 attempts in the second half, might have been his best contribution to win.
“I’ve been working my hardest on my free throws,” Taylor said. “I just have to play hard throughout the entire game and just come every day ready to play.”
Beaver Country Day is 13-1 on the season. Taylor leads a team that plays eight players that are freshmen or sophomores. Taylor is looking forward to continuing to succeed in college.
“I have no idea,” Taylor said in regards to his playing time in the Big Ten next winter. “Whatever time I get, I’ll take it. I just want to win. All I want to do is win.”
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After playing 10 games in January, No. 1 Catholic Memorial will play just four the remainder of the season. The Knights, who clinched the Catholic Conference title with a win over St. John’s Prep last Friday, travel to BC High on Tuesday for their only game this week. Tournament pairings come out Feb. 21. As for unbeaten and No. 2 North Quincy, the Red Raiders host Scituate on Tuesday in a matchup of the top two teams in the Patriot League.