MADISON, Wis. Seven months ago, the college basketball hype machine helped turn Jordan Taylor into a household name when the Associated Press branded him as the best point guard in the country.
It seems a distant memory now, but at that time, Taylor was selected as one of five players to the AP Preseason All-America First-Team. The honor represented a show of respect for all his previous accomplishments at the University of Wisconsin and an expectation that he would surpass those accomplishments during his senior season.
Maybe Taylor felt the pressure of those expectations. Maybe he couldn't quite adjust to playing with new teammates looking for him to be the man every game. What we do know is that he didn't always play like the best point guard in the country. As a result, he produced a good season, not a great one. And for a player with legitimate NBA aspirations in October, he may have turned off pro personnel entirely.
Now, it appears Taylor's hype machine is broken, collecting dust in a cardboard box in the basement.
Last week, the NBA released its official list of 60 players invited to attend the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago on June 7-8. The event typically features a group of players considered most likely to be taken in the two-round NBA Draft in late June.
Taylor's name was not included.
In seven months, Taylor has gone from being considered one of the best college players to one who isn't even thought worthy of a top-60 list.
Certainly, being a great college player is not always indicative of becoming a great NBA player. But at least the other four players named to the preseason AP first-team -- Ohio State's Jared Sullinger, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes, Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb and Kentucky's Terrence Jones -- were invited to the NBA Draft Combine to show their stuff in front of pro scouts.
What does this development mean for Taylor? In all likelihood, it means Taylor won't be drafted at all. He may receive calls to attend a few private workouts, but Taylor's best bet could be a career in Europe.
The website nbadraft.net projects two Taylors to be selected in the two-round draft. Neither of them is Jordan Taylor. Instead, Vanderbilt's Jeffery Taylor and Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor are included.
Draftexpress.com also doesn't list Jordan Taylor on its mock draft.
The knock on Taylor is that he is undersized at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, lacks necessary speed and also doesn't have a consistent enough jump shot. Still, a year ago at this time, most people thought he'd at least be a late second-round NBA pick. Draftexpress.com listed him as the No. 46 overall prospect last April.
As a junior at Wisconsin, Taylor averaged 18.1 points, 4.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds. He led the nation in assists-to-turnovers ratio at 3.83, shot 47.0 percent from the field and 37.0 percent on 3-pointers.
But those statistics dropped considerably during his senior season -- as did his NBA draft stock -- when Wisconsin lost three of its top players to graduation and Taylor became even more responsible for the team. Taylor averaged 14.8 points, 4.1 assists and 3.8 rebounds. He had a 2.63 assists-to-turnovers ratio, shot 40.2 percent from the field and 36.9 percent on 3-pointers.
Despite the statistical drop-off in 2011-12, Taylor was invited to participate in the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational, the only postseason camp conducted for the top seniors in college basketball. Most players that compete are on the fringe of being drafted, and Taylor certainly fits that mold.
In three games at the Portsmouth Invitational in April, Taylor averaged 11.3 points, 4.7 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals. His assists-to-turnovers ratio was solid at 1.75. But he clearly didn't do enough to wow pro scouts and now finds himself in the perilous position of being on the outside looking in.
Back in February, Taylor was asked if he'd thought much about his future as an NBA player.
"There's a lot of people when that challenge comes that will say you're not good enough," Taylor said. "LeBron James runs into that stuff, people telling him he can't do stuff. He's the greatest player in the world right now. You go play and block it out and just have fun and enjoy what you're doing."
Taylor, a business marketing major, also sounded like someone who understood the reality of his situation.
"I've wanted to play in the NBA since I can remember," Taylor said. "If it works out, great. If not, I'll graduate in May and have a whole lot of other options."
Taylor could still make for a nice backup point guard in the NBA if a team provides him with an opportunity. But given the developments of the last seven months, Taylor's most immediate basketball option might be making a living as a player in Europe. And even for a first-team preseason AP selection who once held much higher aspirations, there's certainly no shame in that.
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