When Michelle Taylor speaks of her need to slow the game down, the Plant junior isn't talking about ball control. She's talking about mind control. "When it's fast, it's kind of like a blur," Taylor said. "When you can slow the game down in your head, you're able to see it better." To help achieve this, the 5-foot-8 guard/forward has spent countless hours working under the watchful eye of well-known shooting coach Marvin Harvey. By doing so, she hopes to — like the best in her sport — almost see things before they happen.
"Marvin trains pro athletes," Taylor said. "And he has taught me to think at a higher level, like the pros and college kids do. In their mind, they slow the game down. They don't play at what he calls 10 speed. They play it between one and two speed. Right now, Marvin says I'm still playing faster than what I should be. I'm trying to get between five and seven."
Taylor's cerebral approach to the game is something Plant coach Carrie Mahon has come to expect from the three-year starter, who in addition to being a standout on the court has a 4.7 weighted GPA.
"She's just a thinker," Mahon said. "She understands basketball at a level most high school kids don't. She understands how to create space. She understands angles. She always knows where the ball is going. She's just a student of the game."
And, for that matter, she's also quite a talent.
As a sophomore, Taylor led Plant, which won the Class 5A, District 10 title and reached the second round of the playoffs, in scoring (16.6 points per game) and was second in both rebounding (7.1) and assists (3.3).
During the 2007-08 season, she saw action at every position but center, which says a lot about her versatility.
"There's not a position on the floor she can't play," Mahon said.
Colleges, including DePaul and Florida, have started to take notice.
"I get three or four calls a week from different schools," Mahon said.
At this point, Taylor's college destination is not on her mind. Instead, she is focused squarely on two things: winning and improving.
"I might score 30 in a game, but if we're not winning, I'm not happy," Taylor said.
|Players to watch|
|Zhanea Charles, Robinson, Sr., F||Averaged double figures in scoring and rebounding for Knights.|
|DeAndra Davis, Armwood, Jr. F||Talented transfer averaged 10 points, 6 rebounds a game for Tampa Bay Tech as a 10th-grader.|
|Katie Davis, Holy Names, Sr., G||Led the county in scoring with a 21.5 points-per-game average.|
|Colette Eule, Tampa Catholic, Jr.; G||Averaged 14.9 points a game while shooting nearly 50 percent from the field.|
|Jade Givens, Jefferson, Jr., G||Arguably the area's premier point guard, averaged 12 points and 6 assists in 2007-08.|
|Amber Henson, Sickles, So., F||The 6-foot-4 standout, a Texas transfer, might be the best player nationally in her class.|
|Michelle Taylor, Plant, Jr., G-F||Was the top scorer for a team that reached the region semifinals.|
|Ayala Wasser, Tampa Prep Sr., G||Second-team all-state as a junior; scored 18 points per game.|
Top five teams ... in no particular order
4. Tampa Catholic
On the bubble
Tampa Bay Tech