Dante Taylor may not be putting up huge numbers, but guess what - he's getting better.
This surely isn't what Pitt fans envisioned when the school inked its first McDonald's All-American in about 20 years. Dante Taylor was supposed to come in and immediately start putting up 15 and 10. After all, that's what All-Americans do. Right?
Well, not exactly. We all know the story - Taylor's first year was a disappointment ... at least in terms of fan expectations. He looked slow, and even disinterested at times. But this year's been different.
A lot different.
Taylor still isn't putting up those big numbers and he's still not starting. But he looks completely different and much more aggressive.
He's become one of Pitt's best options off the bench and often, like he did in the Syracuse game last year, provides an offensive spark, scoring several points in only a few minutes. He's also become much more aggressive on the glass and despite not playing as many minutes as starters such as Gary McGhee and Talib Zanna, is leading the team in offensive rebounds with 40. The next closest player is Zanna with 30.
Taylor still hasn't shown much of an outside game, which is kind of shocking to me considering his high school coach insists he can shoot three-pointers. Maybe it will come, but we rarely see Taylor even make such attempts. Yes, he's playing center and that's obviously going to cut back on him being out on the perimeter. But other centers that are capable of doing it find opportunities to take shots outside. Assuming his high school coach was right, he's probably feeling less and less comfortable as more time goes by that he's not shooting out there. So who knows if we'll ever see Taylor show that kind of range.
Next season is going to be big for Taylor and he should move into a starting role with Gary McGhee, Brad Wanamaker, and Gilbert Brown all leaving. I expect him to come in and start at center next season (assuming Khem Birch doesn't play there) and I'll be waiting to see what he does with starter's minutes.