Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Taylor gets high scores after rehab
Myles Taylor played high school basketball in Little Rock.
FAYETTEVILLE - Tennessee-Martin forward Myles Taylor said he never seriously considered redshirting after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late last season.
“I love the game too much not to play,” said Taylor, a 6-7 junior from Little Rock Hall. “It’s all about your mental approach,how much you want to make it back.
“I stayed in school the whole summer and rehabbed here twice every day, knowing I had to get my knee stronger if I wanted to touch the floor again.”
Nine months after undergoing surgery, Taylor will lead the Skyhawks (5-8) into Walton Arena tonight to face Arkansas (7-2).
“You can’t rush it,” he said of the rehabilitation process. “You’ve got to be smart about it. You can’t just go doing crazy stuff, but you can work hard and build yourself back up.”
Taylor missed the first three games this season waiting to be medically cleared, but he has played in the past 10 games and is averaging team highs of 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 23.1 minutes.
Two seasons ago he averaged 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds and was the Ohio Valley Conference’s freshman of the year. Last season, he averaged 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds.
“I’m seeing flashes of my old self, and I feel like the best is yet to come,” Taylor said. “I’m working myself back into game shape and getting used to my teammates, and they’re getting used to me.”
Taylor injured his knee March 2 against Austin Peay while driving to the basket after making a steal.
“I took kind of an awkward step and just came down wrong on my leg,” he said. “It was a freak accident.”
Tennessee-Martin Coach Jason James said he isn’t surprised Taylor, who had surgery in April, has come back as quickly and played as effectively as he has this season.
“I could see every day the work he was putting in, that he was doing exactly what the trainer asked him to do,” James said. “Then when she said he could do more than he was supposed to do, he did more. I just think he really wanted to play and he really wanted to help the team win, and he took the steps to make that happen.”
Arkansas junior guard Ky Madden, who played with and against Taylor in AAU games, said it’s hard to believe Taylor is leading the Skyhawks in scoring and rebounding after having surgery so recently.
“That’s crazy,” Madden said.
James estimated Taylor’s left knee is about 85 percent recovered from surgery.
“What he’s doing is pretty impressive,” James said. “He’s been getting better each time out on the floor as he gets more comfortable.”
After missing losses at Wyoming, Colorado and Arkansas State, Taylor returned against Rochester (Mich.) College and had 20 points in 20 minutes off the bench in the Skyhawks’ 79-64 victory.
“We weren’t playing well at all, and Myles really got us going from an emotional standpoint,” James said. “For our guys to see him come back on the court and the effort he was putting forth, it really gave everybody a lift. He scored the first time he touched the ball, and we just started rolling from there.”
Taylor also has put up good numbers against bigger-name teams this season with 17 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes at Florida State and13 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes at UNLV.
Tonight’s game will mark Taylor’s fourth game in the state of Arkansas, but the first time he has played against the Razorbacks. Last season, he had 24 points and five rebounds at UALR and 19 points and seven rebounds at Central Arkansas. As a freshman, he had eight points and eight rebounds at Arkansas State.
“It always feels good to be back in Arkansas,” Taylor said. “I can’t wait to play the Razorbacks, to be honest with you.”
“I’m sure this game here means the world to him,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said.
There may be times tonight where Taylor is going against two of his friends from Little Rock. He played at Hall with Arkansas freshman Bobby Portis and played with junior Alandise Harris in the summer at Dunbar Recreational Center.
“I’m going to do what I have to do to be successful,” Taylor said. “I’m ready.”
James said it was a goal last summer to have Taylor able to play in time for the Arkansas game.
“When you grow up in Arkansas, obviously Arkansas is the school you want to play at or play well against,” James said. “So he’s excited, but knowing Myles, he’ll also be focused and really prepared to play his best.”
Myles Taylor glance
COLLEGE Tennessee-Martin AGE 21 (born Nov 17, 1992) CLASS Junior POSITION Forward HEIGHT/WEIGHT 6-7, 250 pounds HIGH SCHOOL Little Rock Hall
NOTEWORTHY Averaging team highs of 15.4 points of 5.9 rebounds in 23.1 minutes in 10 games after undergoing surgery in April to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Injured his knee in the regular-season finale at Austin Peay. ... Ohio Valley Conference’s freshman of the year when he averaged 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds. ... Averaged 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season. ... Career-high 31 points against Kennesaw State his freshman season. ... Had a career-high 14 rebounds against Eastern Kentucky last season. ... Helped Little Rock Hall win two state championships.
Today’s game ARKANSAS VS. TENNESSEE-MARTIN
WHEN 7 p.m.
WHERE Walton Arena, Fayetteville RECORDS Arkansas 7-2, Tennessee-Martin 5-8 RADIO Razorback Sports Network TV KATV, Channel 7, Little Rock; KNWA, Channel 51, in Fayetteville; and KAIT, Channel 8, in Jonesboro.
Sports, Pages 18 on 12/19/2013