"Woo... He's gonna be a good one!"
That was Buzz Williams' response, when asked by Homer and Mac about freshman Steve Taylor after a game in 2013. I don't recall exactly which game it was. Perhaps it was his 6 point, 4 rebound, 2 steal performance, in Marquette's February win over Syracuse. It doesn't matter. The point is Williams was obviously excited about the prospects for Taylor as a Golden Eagle and, frankly, so were we. Looking back at the game logs from that season, there are no gaudy stat lines to point to. But watching him play, you couldn't help but think that there were big things in store for Steve. It was obvious that he was going to be a big part of MU's future success.
But then something weird happened. Between his freshman and sophomore season, Steve had surgery to remove a benign growth from his right knee. The planned recovery time seemed to indicate he'd be fine for the start of the season. His full participation in practice and early games that season seemed to confirm that he was recovered and ready to contribute. Then something changed and we were told that the knee wasn't healthy. That saw Steve relegated to the bench for big chunks of the '13-'14 season. When asked about the injury Taylor said that he felt fine, and didn't understand why he wasn't playing more. This led to #FreeSteveTaylor, and ultimately to Steve having one foot out the door after the season. Things were clearly not good.
But once Coach Williams fled to Blacksburg, it seemed like Taylor might have a new lease on life at MU. He had his best statistical season in '14-'15, but due to the size shortage on MU's roster he was forced to play the role of a traditional post player - a role he may not have been the best suited for. Personally, I was intrigued by the possibility of Steve playing alongside Luke Fischer, once Fischer became eligible. Unfortunately, due to Taylor being the only other "big man" on the roster (and Marquette's short bench in general) we didn't get the chance to see those two on the floor together as much as I had hoped.
This offseason, Steve has decided to look for a different situation to play his final collegiate season and the MU roster upheaval continues. Taylor was the final remnant of a disastrous 2012 recruiting class, which boasted such notables as Jamal Ferguson (transfer after 1 season), TJ Taylor (transfer after 2 weeks on campus) and Aaron Durley (never even got to campus, and ended up having injuries prevent him from ever playing a college game). Barring someone transferring in, the Golden Eagles will have no seniors on the roster next year. Should be interesting.