Taylor trusts Schaefer, MSU plan

Myah Taylor

Staff Writer

Put Myah Taylor’s high school accolades up against just about anyone in Mississippi women’s basketball history and she stands out.

Even Victoria Vivians couldn’t boast being the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year for three-consecutive seasons. Taylor was a top 50 player nationally at Olive Branch and the state player of the year every season from her sophomore year through her senior year. She was a two-time Dandy Dozen player and a consensus five-star prospect as one of the nation’s best point guards.

A year after she graduated from Olive Branch, Taylor’s jersey was retired and will hang on the walls for years to come.

How did a player with a record-breaking, historic career spend her freshman season at Mississippi State as a redshirt? Trust in Vic Schaefer and his plan for her is the best way she can describe it.

“At first, it was a very tough decision,” Taylor said of the redshirt. “It wasn’t anything that I was expecting, but coach Schaefer and I sat down and talked about it. We looked at the things long term and all of the positives that will come from it. I think I’ll look back at it as a great decision.”

It turns out that it was a gamble that paid off big time for Schaefer, who has been known to strike gold once or twice on his decisions. The Bulldogs got by just fine with Morgan William and Jazzmun Holmes at the point guard spot on their way to a second-straight national championship game appearance.

On top of that, Taylor got a year to refine her skills. She worked behind several of the most talented and seasoned guards in the Southeastern Conference, which is something that will prove to be key in her development moving forward.

“I learned about the speed of the game and being a coach on the floor as a point guard and especially what (Schaefer) is expecting,” Taylor said. “I got to learn the system and the way he wants us to play defense. Everything that coach Schaefer is looking for in a point guard, I got the chance to learn and grow around.”

Schaefer puts some of the most pressure on the point guard in his system because those are the players that control the speed of the game and handle the ball more than any player on the floor. In order for the Bulldogs to be successful, their point guard must be successful and he’s entrusting the future in his talented redshirt freshman.

This year it’s likely that those keys won’t be turned over to Taylor full time at point guard as Holmes appears to be on the path of being a starter. However, he needs her to make the jump from retaining information to putting it into action in her first year on the court.

“You’re talking about someone that redshirted and got to see it first hand live and up-close last year,” Schaefer said of Taylor. “She understands the importance of taking care of the ball. She just has to do it on the floor. I can’t live through my point guards having four or five turnovers a night. She’s got to show me every day that she can take care of the ball.”

Taylor did it all in high school with 19.4 points, 7.2 assists, 5.4 steals and 3.2 rebounds throughout her career. She’ll be asked to do a little bit of all that for State as well, but she believes her duty is to be the floor general.

“I’m going to be asked to be a facilitator and just another coach on the floor,” Taylor said. “My job is to set our team up in transition and finding the shooters. I need to be a great facilitator, but just an overall great point guard. “

The whole redshirt thing appears to be setting up just fine for Taylor and her team. On top of the learning experience she got, the talented player is now a part of one of the deepest, most talented classes in MSU women’s hoops history.

Taylor is now on pace to play the next four years with an incoming class that was ranked in the top 15 nationally as it added two bigs in Jesska Carter and Daphane White as well has long, athletic guard Xaria Wiggins. The class also got UConn transfer and former five-star recruit Andra Espinoza-Hunter as well as Freshman All-Southeastern Conference Promise Taylor, both of whom will be eligible next season as sophomores.

“I’m very close with all of them,” Taylor said of the talented class. “We took (Espinoza-Hunter) and Promise in and they’ve been very easy to get along with so far. I can’t wait to actually be able to play with all of them against another team.”