Thursday, March 22, 2018
JFK senior set for Ohio-Ky.
By Dan Hiner
Warren JFK basketball player Byron Taylor owes a lot to his grandmother. She installed a basketball hoop in her driveway when he was younger, and his hours of practice played off when he got to high school.
During his first two years of high school, he needed to call “next” just to get an opportunity to practice.
Now the Eagles’ standout will play in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Boys Basketball Game. The game will be played at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky., on April 7.
He is the second local player in as many years to play in “The Battle at the Border.” Warren Harding graduate Lynn Bowden played in 2017.
“I worked for it. I wouldn’t have seen myself in [the All-Star game] though,” Taylor said. “The fact that I was noticed and put in there was a big day there for me.”
The 5-foot-10 Taylor led the Eagles in scoring this past season, averaging 25.5 points per game, and was named first-team All-Ohio on Monday.
He was the only Mahoning Valley player to earn first-team honors from the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association.
Taylor played at Austintown Fitch during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but left for Warren JFK after not playing in his first two years.
Taylor attended a youth camp run by Warren JFK coach Mark Komlanc. Eventually, he attended some open gyms at JFK and made the decision to transfer.
“I wasn’t known first year. I wasn’t known second year,” Taylor said. “To me, I just took it as ‘I’m gonna make sure I’m known.’
“I knew it was time. I wanted to leave because I knew the next two years could only be the same thing. My last year could only be a little more better because I’m a senior and I would play. I didn’t want that.”
Taylor would play pickup games at the YMCA when he was younger, and he would spend hours there until his grandmother would force him to come home.
As a result, his grandmother installed a basketball hoop in her driveway — that way the family would know where he was all day.
The driveway was only five- or six-feet wide, so he learned to shoot and play in tight spaces. This became an unintended benefit.
When he began playing at Warren JFK, the high school court seem larger than it truly was. Taylor could create his own shot because everyone was spaced out farther than when he played with his family in the driveway.
Komlanc credited Taylor’s competitiveness for his play over the last two years.
“He wants to win, no matter what it is,” Komlanc said. “It could be who can roll the ball closest to a cone on the court, and he would do whatever it took to win that. That’s how he is.”
Komlanc said he and Taylor have the same competitiveness, and that’s why the two have been so successful in the last two years.
Komlanc said Taylor’s confidence is often misunderstood. Where some think of Taylor as overconfident, Komlanc knows it’s Taylor’s drive to always better himself.
“I always thought I was the best on the court,” Taylor said. “When I was in 8th, 9th grade, when I wasn’t good, I didn’t get picked and had to call ‘next’ just to get on the court.
“I wasn’t good, but I always wanted to be the best. I could get out there with LeBron [James], as a freshman, I’m gonna tell you I’m way better than LeBron. I’m gonna tell ya why I’m better than LeBron, I know I’m wrong, but I’m gonna tell ya.”