Photo: St. Anne's Belfield

Q&A with IU basketball 2022 target Justin Taylor, who has an official visit planned for June

Indiana has secured its first official visit since the NCAA decided to reopen in-person recruiting effective June 1.

The Hoosiers offered a scholarship to 6-foot-6 small class of 2022 small forward/wing Justin Taylor back in August, and after his first video conference with head coach Mike Woodson, he is ready to make the journey to Bloomington in June for one of his five official visits he tells The Daily Hoosier.

Taylor attends St. Anne’s Belfield School in Charlottesville, Virginia.  He is currently ranked No. 87 nationally in the class of 2022 according to the 247Sports Composite, and he is the No. 21 small forward according to that same service.

Our Q&A session with Taylor on Friday follows.

TDH:  Tell us about your Zoom meeting with Indiana earlier this week.

Taylor:  That was my first time, other than a quick call, talking to coach Woodson since he got hired along with the rest of the staff.  So that was cool just getting to know him and what he’s about and his past and what he wants to do at Indiana.  It was cool talking to him.

TDH:  He’s an NBA guy with 25 years in the league as a head coach / assistant.  What does that mean to you?

Taylor:  It’s significant because he has been where I want to be in the future.  He’s coached guys who have been at all levels, so he has seen what it takes to get there so that’s huge for a coach.  Just talking to him on the Zoom call, you can tell he’s a players coach, and he’s just been around the game so much, both playing and coaching in the NBA, and him being around guys where I want to be one day, so that’s huge.

TDH:  How would you describe Woodson’s style as a recruiter?

Taylor:  He’s laid back but also outgoing and just super excited to get started.  He just wants to get Indiana back where it was.  He showed me a lot of stuff from when he was with the Knicks, both in transition and half court sets,  just style of play, just four-out and one-in and whoever gets the ball just pushes it and they like to play with a lot of freedom and just play fast in transition and just set up well for shooters.  So I think the playing style that he’ll bring to Indiana, and also the passion and integrity will be huge for them.

TDH:  Is assistant coach Kenya Hunter still your primary point of contact with IU?

Taylor:  Yes, he was the one who recruited me when coach (Archie) Miller was still there, and obviously he’s still there and he’s my primary recruiter.

TDH:  I know you haven’t had a chance to visit Indiana yet, but what stands out to you about the program so far?

Taylor:  It’s Indiana basketball.  It is a totally different thing than a lot of other states.  They take it super seriously there with the five national championships that they have, I think that kind of speaks for itself.  I think going there, if I do go there, is just such a huge stage to play on, because it is Indiana, that’s what I’ve gathered so far, and with a visit I think I can get an even better, more clear view of it.

TDH:  What aspects of your game are you hoping to improve this spring and summer?

Taylor:  Working on my athleticism a lot, just constantly improving, being a more consistent shooter, working on my body, getting better at ball handling.  Really just getting ready for after this year, and getting a college body and just making sure I’ve tightened up everything and keep improving.

(Note:  Taylor plays for Team Takeover’s 2022 Nike EYBL team.  His junior high school season was cancelled.  Taylor averaged 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game as a sophomore.  Known as a shooter, for his high school career Taylor has shot 41 percent from behind the arc thus far.)

TDH:  When you think about making a college decision, what factors are going to be the most important to you?

Taylor:  Playing style is huge along with going somewhere where I’ll be able to make an impact right away.  Relationships that I’ve built with the coaches, and obviously visits will be huge since it will be the first time that I’ve seen a lot of these campuses in person, so just being able to see the coaches and players in person, and just knowing the guys a lot since I will be with them a lot wherever I go.

TDH:  What visits do you have planned right now?

Taylor:  Right now it’s Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Syracuse that I have visits planned for, and then Indiana will be right after Syracuse.

(Note:  Taylor clarified that his Indiana visit will count as one of his five available official visits and it is planned for mid-June.)

TDH:  So it is fair to say that you are pretty serious about Indiana at this point?

Taylor:  For sure, yeah, especially after the Zoom call.

TDH:  Who are schools other than Indiana that you feel are pushing pretty hard on you right now?

Taylor:  I would say North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia.

TDH:  Does Virginia hold special significance with you because they are the hometown school?

Taylor:  Obviously they are special because they are my hometown school, I grew up watching UVA, but throughout this whole process I’ve said I won’t go there just because they’re 10 minutes down the road, I want to take my time with the process and find the best fit for me, whether that be UVA or a different school.

TDH:  Do you have any rough sense of a decision timeline yet?

Taylor:  I want to cut my list very soon, before visits start.  I’ve talked about making a decision on my birthday, which is June 26th.  That could happen, or it could be a little later, in July.  We’ll see where that goes, but definitely cutting my list very soon.


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