St. Anne’s-Belfield (Charlottesville, VA) star guard Justin Taylor received a flurry of scholarship offers this past June, around the time Division 1 men’s basketball coaches could have unlimited phone and social media contact with the class of 2022.
Butler, Marquette, Maryland, NC State, Richmond and Virginia Tech were among the schools that offered Taylor at that time, joining schools that offered earlier such as George Washington, Liberty and Old Dominion. Missing from the list was the University of Virginia, although head coach Tony Bennett made sure the local product knew he was interested.
“Coach [Jason] Williford contacted me at midnight (on June 15, the first day of unlimited contact). Coach [Tony] Bennett texted me too,” Taylor said in an EDGE article on June 25. “Two days later, Coach Bennett called me. He said he wanted to wait until the madness slowed down. I had a really good conversation with him. He wants to be patient and take his time with me. He said he is definitely interested. Virginia is definitely one of those schools that does not offer you right away. [Coach Bennett] made an emphasis on the call that just because they don’t offer right away doesn’t mean they are not interested. When they offer, it means they really want you.”
This past Saturday, the 6’6”, 208-pound sharpshooting guard learned that he is indeed a priority for the Cavaliers.
“Coach Bennett actually called me while I was in a drive-thru,” Taylor recalled with a laugh. “It was like a typical conversation, but then Coach Bennett told me that earlier in the day he was watching the national championship game they won and how they had great shooters and he thought of me. That’s when he told me he was offering me a scholarship.”
As a Charlottesville native, Taylor is familiar with UVA and it’s 2019 national champion men’s basketball program. He has seen Cavalier men’s basketball emerge as a national power under Coach Bennett’s guidance, and so he has a good idea of how he would fit into the program.
“I’ve seen how they’ve used guys like Joe Harris, Kyle Guy … guys who are similar to me,” said Taylor, who has trained with former Cavaliers such as Ty Jerome, Devon Hall, London Perrantes and De’Andre Hunter in the offseason. “I’ve seen them be successful with guys like me, so I think it is a good fit.”
Taylor is excited about the scholarship offer from the hometown Hoos. He also lists UVA, Indiana, Syracuse, Virginia Tech and Marquette as schools that are clearly making him a priority. At this point, though, the Rivals and 247Sports 4-star prospect he has no plans to make a commitment any time soon.
“I have seen some kids in my class commit and some narrow their lists recently,” said Taylor, who is also considering offers from Indiana and Syracuse in addition to the aforementioned programs. “I’ve spoken with my mom and my Team Takeover coaches, and right now I think I’m going to take my time and see where things are next spring and summer. I’ll probably narrow my list down next summer. I’ll probably make my decision before the start of my senior season. I think I’d like to have it done by then.”
Bennett, Taylor said, “told me this is a big decision and he said not to rush it. That was good to hear.”
Taylor has not visited many schools outside of UVA, noting he has been to Maryland and the University of Richmond. In a typical year he would have been able to take official visits as early as this fall; however, the NCAA has had a Dead Period in place since the spring because...
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