HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Now that Ryan Taylor is officially part of the Marshall University men's basketball roster, he's ready to do anything to contribute his share.
"I'm just going to go out there and do whatever it takes," the 6-foot-5, 227-pound forward said Tuesday. "I'll go out there and rebound, I'll guard the wing, take charges, anything to win."
That's music to the ears of Marshall Coach Tom Herrion, who wants Taylor to become a versatile player who can inject his winning formula from high school into a Thundering Herd team trying to rebound from a disappointing 2012-13.
Taylor knew plenty about winning during his 2011-12 season at Hargrave Military Academy. Playing under former Marshall player A.W. Hamilton, Taylor helped Hargrave to a 38-1 record and a No. 2 national ranking, averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds in the process.
He had committed to Louisville earlier in his high school career, but came to Marshall and sat out last season as an academic non-qualifier.
He sat the season with fellow non-qualifier Kareem Canty. Their introductions to sitting out that year were different - Canty didn't know until after the regular season began that we would be ineligible, while Taylor knew from the start he'd have to sit. That made the experience a little easier, but it was still tough to get used to.
Once Taylor got more comfortable, he went to work honing his game from the sidelines.
He worked on being more effective with his left hand. And he tried to keep the shooting range he had and extend it further from the basket.
He entered college working more as a power forward, or "4," but wanted to add small forward, or "3," skills to his repertoire.
"Coming into college, it was more of a 4," Taylor said. "But with my height, I'm an undersized 4, so I have to work on my 3 skills and even some of my 2-guard skills. I didn't want to lose my jump shot. A lot of 4s have their back to the basket. Keeping my jump shot and increasing my range will make it easier for us to spread the floor."
Herrion said he wants Taylor gain size, but the right kind of size - the size that will allow him to play several roles, and several Herd players will this coming season.