The best college basketball player no one knows about
by Andrew Kennedy
Florida Atlantic’s point guard is one of the most exciting college basketball players to watch. He is listed at 5-foot-6 but is closer to 5-foot-4 and ever since he stepped foot inside an FAU uniform, he became the best player on their team.
He looks like he doesn’t belong on the same court as his teammates and not just because he looks more like a third grader than freshman in college. It’s because he’s better than everyone else. It’s as if FAU had somehow landed a five-star recruit and sets up the entire offense for him to make plays.
Through 10 games this season for the Owls, Taylor is carrying the team scoring 18.2 points per game and dishing out 6.3 assists each contest.
In a triple overtime 106-99 victory for FAU over Warner Southern, Taylor played 43 minutes and scored 25 points with seven assists while making 16-of-18 free throw attempts.
He’s even helped achieve a milestone already for Mike Jarvis’ young program by winning their first ever road game in the Sunbelt conference.
Over his last four games, Taylor is averaging 22.8 points, six assists and two steals.
He’s not just doing this against lesser competition either. In FAU’s last game against the University of Miami in the Orange Bowl Classic, Taylor was clearly the best player on the floor for either team as he single-handedly kept the Owls from getting blown out by throwing up 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
He also nearly made three Miami players fall in the open floor before the Hurricanes learned their lesson and decided to just let Taylor go by them instead of embarrassing themselves any further.
I first saw little Ray embarrassing his opponents in Lakeland, Fla. back in 2007 when he played in the class 4A state championship for Monsignor Pace. He was only a sophomore back then (and probably shorter than he is now) playing alongside University of Florida sophomore Ray Shipman and Louisville freshman Rakeem Buckles.
While Shipman and Buckles were the more sought after recruits, it was Taylor who stole the show with an unlimited amount of highlights leading his team to a 77-58 win and earning all-tournament honors.
I fell in love.
Taylor finished out his high school career transferring to American Heritage in Plantation and playing with Florida signees Kenny Boynton and Eloy Vargas. He also played for the best AAU team (Team Breakdown) in the country that one two national championships and consisted of Boynton, UCF’s Keith Clanton and the No. 1 ranked player by Rivals in the class of 2010, Brandon Knight.
While the world of basketball will see and has seen hundreds of players like Boynton and Knight through the years, there is only one Raymond Taylor.
The best part about Taylor is that he is unique. While it may seem easy to be original when you’re a 5-foot-4 point guard playing college basketball, he does it in a different way than the rest.
In an era where young basketball players are becoming more and more alike with the number of basketball camps and clinics across that country that are molding everyone into the same generic shape, Taylor has separated from the pack.
He’s not just little, fast and strong. When he makes plays they have a Gretzky feel to them, that he is two or three moves ahead of his opponent. He’s averaging 6.3 assists per game but could be getting closer to 10 if he played for a better team where his teammates could catch and finish all the brilliant passes he throws.
He is able to shoot and make a lot of three-pointers but it takes a little extra effort in his case. He still basically shoots from the hip so instead of just rising up from a triple threat position to shoot a jump shot, he has to assemble a barrage of quick dribble moves ending with a jab and step back to create space to get off his shot.
On defense, he doesn’t just get low and stay in front of the man he is guarding. That’s not enough because he’s too short so instead, he pressures full court circling his man like a cyclone and frustrating them always but never gets tired himself.
When you see him play, he immediately becomes your favorite player, I don’t care who you are. He’s that exciting and that good and that tiny that you will never stop questioning your eyes or chuckling with delight as he blazes past taller opponents on his way to dropping 20 in your face every night.
Photo courtesy of www.fauowlsnest.com.