For some people, it takes just a little later to get noticed.
That was just the case for Coppell senior guard Brandon Taylor, who saw the recruiting process come a little later than others. The offers weren’t pouring in right from the get-go, but he kept plugging away and looking to a fellow Metroplex product: Mason Jones.
At Connors State College, a junior college in Oklahoma, Jones was slept on. He wasn’t the highly sought-after prize like some of his contemporaries. He had to go the JUCO route and hopefully land himself at a Division I school.
Jones did just that, transferring to Arkansas and bursting onto the scene these last two years, averaging 13.6 points and 3.9 rebounds as a sophomore before tremendously upping those numbers to 22.0 points and 5.5 rebounds as a junior this past year. Now Jones has declared for the NBA draft – leaving the possibility to return without signing with an agent yet – and is rated as the No. 14 draft-eligible shooting guard by ESPN.
Taylor sees a lot of his story in him and is following in his footsteps, signing with Connors State over Instagram Live on Wednesday afternoon.
“He really blew up,” Taylor said. “I think I’m kind of in that same situation where not a lot of people know about me yet, but it is what it is. Time will tell and stuff like that.”
Ever since he first started playing at 4 years old, Taylor has always had that drive to excel and bring out the best in himself and others.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has halted the regular schedules everyone used to have with school and athletics, Taylor continues to put in the work he always did. He still goes to local parks that are open and works out.
Before the virus did hit and suspended everything, Taylor was up bright and early at 6:30 or 7 a.m. He arrived at the gym by 7:30 and worked out for 90 minutes before going through his regular practice at Coppell, and then he would return to the gym later at night from 8:30-10 p.m. before going to sleep.
And he never ever takes Sundays off.
“He’s always been real passionate about the game,” said Clint Schnell, Coppell head coach. “He puts in a ton of time on his own outside of our practices and whatnot, playing AAU and all those things. He’s just a great example of a kid that puts in the work and gets the reward and gets to play at the next level.”
That work certainly translated onto the court and beyond, lifting Coppell to new heights every single year he donned the Cowboys uniform.
A three-year letterman, Coppell never failed to miss the playoffs once during those three seasons. The last two featured outright District 6-6A crowns, two trips to the area round of the playoffs and, this year, a final state ranking of No. 24 in the TABC 6A poll.
Taylor went on to average 11.5 points, shoot a highly efficient 42.4% from distance and average 2.7 assists and rebounds en route to a first team all-district selection.
“His impact grew each year,” Schnell said. “Last year, he was a little bit more of a coming off the bench role. I think he started a few games for us, but kind of grew into a more rounded player.
“And then coming into his senior year, he was definitely one of our team leaders, the type of kid that was tough to ever take off the floor, was a capable scorer, was a great passer, got to be a better defender for us. Just his leadership and his overall improvement really helped make our team go this year.”
But, oddly, the college interest wasn’t quite coming in even when Taylor was winning games left and right and winning titles left and right at Coppell.
So, he asked his cousin, Jeffery Taylor – who played collegiately at Vanderbilt, was the No. 31 pick by the then-Charlotte Bobcats in the 2012 NBA draft and now plays overseas for Real Madrid — for advice.
“I was like, ‘How did you get your name out there? Like do they call you? Do I get Twitter?’” Taylor said. “He told me to get a Twitter. I ended up getting Twitter, and then a lot of small schools would follow me and message me. He kind of just told me, ‘Everybody has a different story.’ He was like, ‘If it’s late, don’t worry. It will come.’”
It certainly came.
At the In-N-Out Burger Allen Tournament, it was scouts galore. In front of those scouts, particularly against No. 2-ranked Dickinson, Taylor realized his dreams of playing at the next level were more than possible after he scored 18 points.
“I think I turned some heads and I was like, ‘Yeah, I definitely sure can sign somewhere by the end,’” Taylor said.
Soon, Taylor will step foot on a college court and show just how he got to this point with his skills, work ethic and leadership skills that helped pave the way at Coppell into an inordinate amount of success in his three years at the varsity level.
And soon, Taylor will look to follow in Jones’ footsteps and get to the Division I level after blowing up at Connors State, where he will play for a legendary coach in Bill Muse.
“I think you’ll see a lot of what you saw here at Coppell,” Schnell said. “I think even going in there as a freshman, I still think he’ll be vocal. I still think he’ll be himself. He’s not the type that gets intimidated by a situation or feels like he’s kind of got to find his niche. I think he’ll jump right in with both feet. They’re going to be very pleased with the kind of player they’re going to get with him.”