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HCC center Taylor-made for Cal Poly

July 25, 2009|By BOB PARASILITI

Opportunity didn't knock for Will Taylor. It was more like a ring.

What started out as a phone call from a friend became a long-distance offer of a lifetime.

Taylor received an update from Hagerstown Community College basketball teammate Amaurys Fermin about his start at his new school, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. In the course of the conversation, Fermin mentioned that the Mustangs were rebuilding and needed some big men.

It just so happens Taylor, a Williamsport graduate, was HCC's center. And, it just so happened that Fermin handed his phone to new Cal Poly coach Joe Callero.

"Amaurys told me that they were looking for big men and he mentioned me to the coach," Taylor said. "Then, Coach got on the phone and said he saw me on Amaurys' tapes."

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It ended with Taylor flying to California last month for what amounted to an audition. The next day, he was offered the Division I scholarship. He received his letter-of-intent from Cal Poly earlier this week.

"I made sure I took my 'A' game with me," Taylor said. "I went all the way to California and I wasn't going to come back without a college scholarship."

Taylor was the first of two former Hawks to agree to join a Division I school on Thursday. Raason Young, a 6-foot-6 forward, accepted an offer to play for the University of Montana. Taylor will join Fermin, a 6-3 point guard, at Cal Poly to help rebuild the Mustangs program.

Cal Poly finished 8-21 last season, including a 3-13 mark in the Big West Conference. Callero was brought in to revive the program and bring it to national prominence.

Callero knew who Taylor was from Fermin's recruiting tape. The coach admitted that he wasn't overly impressed, but Taylor's game was noticeable.

Callero wanted more tape and talked to Taylor.

"I told him that I was working out hard and that I had lost 15 pounds," Taylor said.

Then came last month's trip for his audition.

"He liked the way I rebounded and the way I ran the floor," Taylor said. "He liked my post moves, but he wanted me to work on my conditioning. He told me he wanted me to get my fat butt in shape."

That will be a must for Taylor, who will be changing positions. He will transform from a 6-6 center who was rarely used in HCC's run-and-gun scheme to more of an option in Cal Poly's set halfcourt plan.

"I've been working on my shooting and I showed off my 15-foot shot," Taylor said. "I have been working my offense more from the inside out. I can still do all my post moves, but I can now come outside and shoot."

Taylor averaged 7.3 points and 8.9 rebounds a game for HCC this season, most coming off trailing the Hawks' fast-breaking style and cleaning up missed shots.

"Will has been a real success story and is an example of what can happen when a student-athlete commits to excellence," said HCC athletic director Bo Myers. "HCC gave Will an opportunity and he has taken advantage of it."

The Cal Poly offer trumped interest from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Coppin State and several Division II schools.

Young, out of Kennedy High School in Montgomery County, Md., heads to Montana after averaging 18.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for the Hawks last season.

The whole whirlwind tour for Taylor seems like the end of a reoccurring dream.

"I've worked so hard and I don't want to stop," Taylor said. "Ever since I was a little kid, I've watched Division I teams play in March Madness and that is where I wanted to be. Now I will get that chance."

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