Ty Taylor II hopes to make an impact

Wichita State always had a spot on freshman basketball player Ty Taylor II’s list when he started considering four-year colleges.

“It just made sense to come here,” he said. “It’s close to home, WSU has had a top-5 program the last five years, a Hall of Fame coach and I’m going to get better here — that’s the biggest thing for me.”

However, his basketball career started long before WSU.

Taylor began playing basketball when he was five years old and became competitive in the third grade, and his parents have supported him every step of the way.

 “My biggest influence is my dad. He taught me how to be a man,” Taylor said. “But as far as athletics go, I would say Kevin Durant — I always tell people I fell in love in 2007 when he was a freshman in college because he was a tall, skinny guy that showed people he can be great.”

Taylor said his father was his coach while he was younger and taught him more than the game of basketball.

“He’s a great guy and taught me that respect is the most important thing. I would be nothing without him,” he said.

Taylor also mentioned that his mother, Theresa, played an important role, too, when he needed someone to talk to or a pat on the back.

As his career developed, Taylor enjoyed success at Grandview High School in Grandview, Missouri, as a two-time conference MVP, two-time All-State selection, eight 30 plus point performances in his career, he broke the school record with 1,551 career points, and became Grandview’s leader with the most steals and assists in a career.

With his senior year coming to an end, Taylor had his heart set on going to a four-year college to continue his basketball career.

Originally, Taylor was prepared to commit to Texas but decided it wasn’t the best school for him.

When the recruitment process first started with WSU, Taylor said it was temporary to keep his options open. However, coming to Wichita was never too far from his mind.

Taylor frequently watched games on television and made the decision to later become a Shocker.

It all started when Taylor watched the WSU vs. KU game last season.

“I remember I was on spring break … and I was going crazy on my couch because since I’m from Missouri I didn’t like KU, anyway. I was just too happy to see WSU win,” he said.

And after watching a couple of games on TV, Taylor knew he was watching future teammates Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet.

“The best thing about them is they are more personable than I thought they would be,” he said. “They both have been really helpful in my transition and Fred has been really influential.”

While Baker and VanVleet may be leading the team into its next season, Taylor knows they are both just one of the guys, and said he isn’t intimidated by their national attention.

“I don’t compare myself to them, but I like to see them do well,” Taylor said. “They could never be me, and I could never be them. If I can just keep getting better and with their guidance I feel like, sometime, I could be at their level.”

With all of the senior support and different game factors, one idea remains constant for Taylor: Making an impact.

“I’m still trying to find my role on the team, but hopefully I can find it soon,” he said. “I want to be a difference-maker, and at the end of the year when we win the National Championship I want to say I was a part of it. I want to say I made a difference. I’ve never been OK with just sitting on the bench or being along for the ride.”

Though young, Taylor may find his spot on the team sooner than anticipated with more performances like his at the exhibition game against Hawai’i Pacific on Saturday. Taylor scored 11 points — the same as senior Ron Baker ­— during his playing time in the second half.

“Being a freshman, I’ve realized there are no off days — you have to go hard every day,” Taylor said. “We have so many other, really good guys that one day off means you might not get in the next game or you might lose your spot.”