Will Wade And LSU Basketball Just Took A Commitment From A Kid With A 50-Inch Vertical Leap

That’s not a joke, though we do need to qualify this a bit by saying Marlon Taylor, the 6-6 shooting guard who committed Wednesday to LSU over offers from New Mexico State,¬†Fresno State, Florida Atlantic, St. Bonaventure, Xavier and Middle Tennessee State, among others, hasn’t actually been documented as having a 50-inch vertical.

But we’re fairly confident it’s true, and we’ll try to prove it in a second.

Taylor, who was an all-conference performer this year at Panola Junior College in Texas, averaged 17.0 points and 9.5 rebounds a game this year, good numbers on a 20-12 team he essentially carried the whole season (Taylor outpaced the team’s second-leading scorer by six points a game, he was the leading rebounder by four rebounds a game and he was Panola’s best three point shooter at 44.1 percent, close to its best free throw shooter at 80.2 percent and its second-best free throw shooter at 49.8 percent).

He’s a kid who looks like a fast riser. As a freshman at Panola his numbers were OK, but not eye-popping –¬†10.7 points and 7.1 rebounds, shooting 56.1% from the field and 32.3% from the 3-point line. That major improvement is explainable by the fact he’s only played organized basketball for five years. His skills are coming on quickly.

But he can do one thing pretty well, and that’s the vertical leap you saw in the headline. We found this video on Taylor which has some footage of what looks like it could conceivably be a 50-inch vertical…

And here’s a video of Taylor in his freshman year at Panola. There isn’t any footage from this year we could find, but this isn’t bad…

He was playing mostly at the “4” for Panola as a freshman, but he moved to the wing more this year and that’s when Taylor started catching the radar of the better programs – at 6-6 and 210, he’s got perfect size for a college wing. That’s one reason why JUCORecruiting.com ranks him as the No. 17 player in the junior college ranks this year.

If you’re trying to figure where this guy fits in the LSU basketball picture next year given the monster recruiting class he’s joining, consider that Brandon Sampson is moving on to pro basketball somewhere and Taylor is a player hopefully similar to Sampson on a good night. He’s a bit taller and thicker and potentially similarly dangerous from the three-point arc, but Taylor is more of an “effort” player than Sampson, who for some irritating reason wouldn’t consistently bring his “A” game and had an excruciating aversion to playing defense. Taylor is enough of an athlete that if he wants to be he could be a shutdown defender and in doing so make himself invaluable for Wade’s 2018-19 team.

Wade’s interesting decision for the coming season seems to be whether he wants to play three point guards (Tremont Waters, Skylar Mays and Je’Vonte Smart) or three big guys (Kavell Bigby-Williams, Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams), because heretofore he doesn’t quite have a textbook “3” to put on the court other than maybe Brandon Rachal, whose offensive game might not be ready to support him as a starter. But add a Taylor to that mix and it gets even more interesting – he could potentially be that “3” who gives you the rebounding you could get if Bigby-Williams, Reid and Williams were all on the floor at the same time PLUS the three-point shooting you might get with those three guards. He could be a true “glue” guy Sampson was supposed to be, and was in LSU’s win over Final Four-bound Michigan in Maui.

The upshot is this could end up being a monster pickup for the LSU hoops program, and Taylor might be a major piece in building a scary-good team for this winter. There’s only one more addition Wade needs to have what might be a great team – that’s one more quality big man to complete the rotation between Bigby-Williams and Reid, so Williams doesn’t have to be thrown in as an undersized post player and can be developed as a small forward, which is what he’ll be in the NBA.

So naturally, Wade has a 6-10, 230-pound center from Oral Roberts named Javan White coming in for a visit this weekend. White averaged 10 points and nine rebounds a game this past year, and he’s a graduate transfer with two years remaining. What he offers is a guy who will give LSU defense and rebounding off the bench this year, then potentially a bellcow in the paint for 2019-20 once Bigby-Williams and Reid have moved on.

If White comes as an addition to follow Taylor, it’s likely the third scholarship available this year would go to a player who’s a normal transfer and has to sit out this season. Nobody will have a problem with that, because the 12 eligible players on LSU’s team would be the deepest roster in school history.

We keep talking about this coach as something of a messiah for the LSU basketball program. We’re not kidding. He really is that good, and he’s showing it. You probably didn’t think of LSU as a basketball school, but that’s what it looks like you’re getting.

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