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Player Preview: Travis Taylor

Transfers have a long history of success at Xavier. CJ Anderson (Manhattan), Drew Lavender (Oklahoma), Jordan Crawford (Indiana), and Jamel McLean (Tulsa) all made a significant mark on the program, despite not starting their careers here. The next in line to take that step is Travis Taylor, a 6'8" 220lb junior forward from Monmouth University.

Taylor (@TakeoffTrav) was more than just another grinder at Monmouth. In his sophomore season there, Travis led the Hawks in both scoring, with 17.8 per game, and rebounding, with 7.6 per game. Despite being linked with both UC and Boston College, Taylor settled on Xavier after meeting with the coaching staff. Taylor was #8 in Jeff Goodman's list of impact transfers this year, and has been called the missing piece to Xavier's offense.

Taylor joins the Musketeers in only his sixth year of organized basketball. Despite that relative lack of experience, Travis brings a pretty complete game to the floor. A career 54% shooter from the floor, Taylor also managed 65% from the line his sophomore year. Anyone who watched Jamel McLean shoot free throws knows how important it is for a big man to be able to convert from the line. The junior forward has added 20 pounds since he last stepped on a court for Monmouth, filling out an athletic frame with some extra muscle.

Best Case: Taylor starts at the four and provides an athletic and versatile foil for the more lumbering and pounding game of Kenny Frease. Even as a starter Taylor won't match the 17 a game he scored for Monmouth due to the options around him, but he's tough and quick enough to score reliably and control the glass for long stretches at a time. Taylor has a McLean like knack for getting to the offensive glass, which frees Frease up to move into areas to catch and shoot. Taylor's defensive prowess (he recorded four blocks in a game) keeps him in the lineup even when he can't score. Travis' remarkable consistency, he scored double digits every game of his sophomore year, helps stabilizes the team in a way Jeff Robinson couldn't last year.

Worst Case: Taylor dominates less athletic teams but really struggles when refinements to his game are needed. Large big men force him deeper on the block than he would like to be and his relative lack of size (220 isn't a lot on a 6'8" man) is exposed. Taylor also can't get his shots against bigger, quicker bigs than he faced at the basketball factory that is Monmouth. In some games, Taylor can vanish off the glass. Sacred Heart kept him to four in his last season, and Monmouth crashed out of their conference tourney when he managed only five against Quinnipiac. That doesn't bode well for games against Vanderbilt, Gonzaga, and UC. Character issues that caught him once at Monmouth come up again, and Taylor loses against the strong willed Coach Mack.

Most likely: Travis Taylor has an excellent chance of starting for this team. He already has a year in the system, seems to have no conflict with Coach Mack, and has added 20 pounds without sacrificing speed and quickness. All of that adds up to season at Xavier that we have come to expect from incoming transfers.