Good Sports: Fresno Pacific men's basketball

January 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
John Taylor is a long way from home, a Chicago native whose path to Fresno Pacific University was high-profile, to say the least.

"The program here - I love it," said Taylor. "It's very welcoming. I like the environment around. It's very low-key. It fits me."

Just last year, Taylor was named National Junior College Player of the Year, after leading Mott Community College in Flint, Michigan, to its fourth national championship.

"He's a special player," said FPU Head Coach Chris Wright. "He could play anywhere in the country. He does a lot of things for us that don't show up in the stat sheet. He's the guy that demands the most attention and gosh - he makes my job a lot easier as a head coach."

Taylor was recruited by high-profile Division I schools, but instead chose to attend Fresno Pacific for academic reasons. It's a decision he has not regretted.

"My teammates - I love my teammates," said Taylor. "They're funny, nice to be around, and thy care about each other."

And now with Taylor and six other talented newcomers on the roster, Coach Wright is faced with the daunting task of winning while transitioning from NAIA status to NCAA Division II.

"I think teams at the Division II level are a little bit deeper," said Coach Wright, "and the bottom teams in Division II are really good as well. So you don't have a lot of nights where you run into bad teams. So you have to bring it every single night in order to be good."

"Well we have to stick together in order to win basketball games," Taylor said. "If we don't then we're just all here for nothing."

With Taylor leading the charge, Coach Wright knows success this season is possible.

"You know with five out of our next six games at home, things look really nice for us," said Coach Wright. "It's set up for us to go on a big run right here."

"Just keep playing basketball," said Taylor. "Keep doing the things that we know how to do and defend."