Kaylen Taylor’s appetite for dribbling, when it manifests at an unsuitably late hour, leads him to the kitchen. There, much to the chagrin of his mother, Caroline’s senior point guard puts the ball on the floor and gets to work.
“She yells, but I just do it anyways,” Taylor said with a laugh.
Taylor’s ball handling has already made some noise in the Fredericksburg area. In last season’s Battlefield District championship game against James Monroe, he unleashed his own variation of the savage one-handed crossover known as the “Shammgod,” after its creator, former Providence star God Shammgod.
More importantly, he swished the ensuing 3-pointer.
“It was big time,” Cavaliers coach Antoine Johnson recalled. “I trust him on the court, so if he’s got a move he thinks will work, I’ve got confidence in him. I kind of just let him do his thing.”
Taylor derives most of his dribbling techniques from “Ball is Life,” a website that features mixtapes of top recruits. He gleaned what’s become his signature move--through the legs, behind the back, followed by a hint of hesitation--from Buffalo point guard Ronaldo Segu. After watching Segu degrade a defender, Taylor rewound the clip a half-dozen times to dissect it.
“I think it’s the ‘hesi’ at the end that gets the defender off his feet,” Taylor said of what makes this particular crossover effective. “The last part is finishing.”
Taylor’s senior campaign is just getting started, though. He averaged 21 points and six assists per game as a junior but fractured his left arm after falling awkwardly during a fall league game in September. Unable to shoot for nearly four months, he filled the void with “Ball is Life” videos, clamoring for another chance to piece together his own highlight-worthy tape.
“I couldn’t do nothing but sit down and watch,” said Taylor, who has attracted interest from Division–III Roanoke College.
Since making his return last month, Taylor has eased his way back into the Cavaliers’ lineup. His defense remains sterling, even if his shot is covered in a thin layer of rust.
This much is certain: he’s hungry to regain his pre-injury form.
“He just adds things to his game,” Johnson said. “He studies, knows about all the top players in the area and the country and is picking up different things from different guys. He’s really focused on that stuff.”