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Northwestern men’s basketball player previews: G Ryan Taylor

The graduate transfer figures to play a significant role in the team.

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After a disappointing season for Northwestern, Chris Collins brought in the best recruiting class in the history of the program. Yet, one of the most important pickups for the team came in the form of graduate transfer Ryan Taylor. The Evansville grad will likely play a large part in the complexion of the season for Northwestern.

Who he is:

Senior; guard; 6-foot-5; 187 pounds; Gary, IN.

The stats:

21.3 points per game; 35.2 minutes; 3.8 rebounds; 1.1 assists; .426/.424/.864 shooting splits for Evansville

2017-2018 review:

Taylor joined Northwestern in April after deciding to transfer from Evansville. He was pursued by Indiana, Oregon, Miami, among other Power Five programs. Per ESPN, the desire of Chris Collins and Northwestern was a deciding factor in joining the team. “The connection I made with Chris Collins and the staff was huge, and it seems like they are really hungry, especially after what happened last year,” Taylor said. Taylor’s addition was a big pickup for Northwestern considering the lack of shooting depth the team possesses.

Last year, Taylor shined on an average Evansville team, leading the team in scoring by a wide margin. He also provided the second most minutes on the team and dropped 30+ points on three occasions during the season. The entire Northwestern team produced one individual 30+ point outing, that being Scottie Lindsey’s lights-out performance against Iowa.

A low point in the season came when Taylor had to deal with a foot fracture that sidelined him for seven games. After that period, he returned in his first game and led the team in scoring against Loyola. By the end of the season, he established himself as one of the finest scorers in Evansville history.

Strengths:

Taylor’s best asset is his scoring. He has a unique combination of slashing and shooting skills that allow him to put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop while also being able to pull up or catch and shoot. Additionally, his length creates awkward matchups for defenses. If you put a guard on him, he can shoot the ball over a contest with ease, but if he is matched up with a forward, he is capable of consistently blowing by the opposition.

Furthermore, Taylor is one of the premier three point shooters in the NCAA. At a 42.4% clip, he is incredibly efficient behind the arc. Northwestern hasn’t had a starter shoot the three that well since John Shurna’s 2011-12 season.

Weaknesses:

While Taylor is a premier offensive talent, he doesn’t match that level on the defensive end. Despite playing the second most minutes on the team, Taylor was tied for fifth in blocks and fifth in steals. He isn’t necessarily a liability on defense, as his length provides challenges for opposing shooters, but he doesn’t provide the defense a boost, per se.

Another slight issue for Taylor is his turnover to assist ratio. For every assist that Taylor garnered, he turned the ball over twice. If he can limit the turnovers, he’ll become an even more productive player.

Expectations:

After the loss of Scottie Lindsey, Taylor will become the most experienced scorer on the team. Despite this being his first and only year with the program, it’s fair to expect that Taylor will play a huge role on the team. He brings a rare pedigree of offensive skill to the team, and with the team’s lack of depth at the guard position, he’ll be tasked with unique responsibilities on both ends of the court. If Northwestern is going to have a successful season, Taylor is going to play a big part in it.