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Confidence guides Wade Taylor IV thorough first season with Aggie men's basketball team
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Confidence guides Wade Taylor IV thorough first season with Aggie men's basketball team

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In the first 16 games of his college career, Texas A&M guard Wade Taylor IV would like to have just one shot back. It was his first miss midway through the first quarter of the Aggies’ season opener against North Florida.

“I shot what was probably like a 30-foot 3 and [head coach Buzz Williams] was like, come on, Wade, you know that can’t be the first [3-pointer] of your NCAA career,” Taylor said with a laugh. “I was like, yes, sir. Ever since then I’ve been right on top of it.”

The freshman from Lancaster has shied from few shots since coming to Aggieland. That confidence attracted Williams to recruit Taylor since he first took the job as the A&M men’s basketball coach.

“You kind of have to live with that’s [Taylor],” Williams said. “He’s going to miss some, but he’s going to make some. His heart is pumping for Texas A&M, and he’s not scared.”

Entering A&M’s Southeastern Conference matchup at Missouri (7-8, 1-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Taylor leads A&M (14-2, 3-0) in usage percentage — the percentage of team plays that include a player — at 32.2%. The next highest is senior guard Quenton Jackson at 26.6%.

Taylor is fourth on the team in field goals attempted per game at 6.8 and second in 3-point field goals attempted a 3.4. Taylor ranks third on the team in 3-point field goal percentage at 38.9%.

Taylor paced the Aggies with a career-high 19 points in their 83-73 win at Oregon State in mid-December.

The 6-foot, 186-pounder averages just 15.6 minutes per game, trailing six players including four guards. He’s also yet to start a game for A&M, but he’s been a consistent part of the Aggies’ game plan.

“Coach Buzz just gives me that trust that I can go out there and play my game, so I feel like that helps a lot,” Taylor said. “But I just go out there and play my hardest and trust my work and whatever happens happens.”

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On his second day on the job at A&M, Williams made a point to visit Lancaster to check out the 247Sports.com four-star recruit. From that early stage, Williams said he was all in on recruiting Taylor, who showed aspects of his fearlessness from a young age.

“He doesn’t necessarily look the part,” Williams said. “You may go to a game, and he didn’t shoot it as well. You may go to a game, and he was unguardable, but I’ve loved him from the very beginning and our staff has too. I think his family knew from the beginning we were all in.”

Taylor said he wanted to stay close to home, so his family could watch him play in college. He was not recruited by Williams at Virginia Tech, but the fact that Williams made the trip up Interstate 35 to Lancaster so soon after taking over at A&M was significant to the point guard.

“He’s thinking about me and wanted me to be in his program,” Taylor said. “Just the love they showed me through the whole recruiting process was just unbelievable.”

Now Taylor’s job is to bring energy off the bench. He blazes down the court with near reckless abandon in attempts to nab transition buckets. Towards the end of the Aggies’ 67-51 win over Ole Miss on Tuesday, Taylor even dished a no-look, behind-the-back pass while on a fast break.

What Williams loves most about that youthful exuberance is the way Taylor brings the same energy against defenders in practice. Williams said he rotates guys onto the floor just to match up against Taylor’s intensity.

“For someone that causes as much attention as he does, from a scoring standpoint and for the pace of your team to pick up the way it does when he plays, I think that says a lot about his relationship with our guys,” Williams said. “It makes everybody better. [Tyrece Radford] goes six miles per hour faster on the defensive end when [Taylor] is on the offensive end.”

Williams said Taylor is not yet the offensive playmaker he can become once he’s had more time in A&M’s strength and conditioning program. It’s growth Williams expects the youngster to make.

“I think he’s going to have a really good college career,” Williams said.

NOTESWilliams said Missouri leading scorer Kobe Brown might be the one of the most improved players in the country. Brown averaged eight points per game last season but is up to 14.7 this season. “He’s one of the guys that forces you to make decisions when the ball is in the middle of the floor, and I think that’s what makes several of those other guys to create opportunities in the channel,” Williams said. ... A&M is beginning to make its way up most college basketball rankings. The Aggies enter Saturday’s contest ranked 48th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, 59th on KenPom.com and 57th on BartTorvik.com. Williams said chances at cracking the AP Top 25 could come in the upcoming weeks as the Aggies face No. 18 Kentucky and No. 12 LSU before the end of January. “I don’t really pay attention to it,” Williams said. “I do think that there are opportunities coming our way for something like that.” A&M leads the SEC in field goal percentage in conference games at 53.9% and leads the conference in 3-point field goal percentage overall at 38.1%. ... A&M forward Henry Coleman III is averaging 18.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in SEC play.

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