Jeffery Taylor is one of the most athletic, explosive, fast-twitch players in the country - and he'd be a lock for a list of the ten "most explosive" returning players in 2010-2011, right? Rivals.com doesn't seem to think so. And while their list includes a number of solid players who happen to be ridiculous athletes, they seem to be missing a sure-fire top five player in Taylor. Their queue, filled with guards with waterbug-like lateral movement and quickness, rates players like BYU's Jimmer Fredette, Hofstra's Charles Jenkins, and even SEC Rival Travis Leslie of Georgia in front of the Swedish Chef himself, who doesn't even merit a mention in the rankings. This all must seem terribly peculiar to Vanderbilt fans, as "explosive" is typically the first thing that comes to mind when describing the 6'7" swingman.
Taylor's ability to burst down the court in fast breaks, jump out of the gym, and blanket the SEC's best scorers is directly attributable to his insane athleticism. Check out his DraftExpress profile, and you'll find no fewer than three instances of the word "explode" describing his capabilities. ESPN's Chad Ford, in separate points, calls the young forward "super athletic," "explosive," and that he " Excels at getting to the rim with quick first step." Hell, Jeffery Taylor is nothing on the basketball court if not explosive, with his vicious finishes, high level lateral movement, and ability to beat defenders to any spot on the court. The only problem is that he hasn't done it consistently yet.
That's where Rivals may finally have their argument for exclusion - though the inclusion of Leslie at #2 certainly invokes the expectation that Taylor would be somewhere on the list. Unfortunately, Vanderbilt fans - and the rest of the country - have yet to see the junior truly break out in a meaningful stretch of games and be the dominant player that his potential dictates that he should be. While his athleticism has scouts drooling, and the glimmering presence of a developing jumper has Coach Kevin Stallings no doubt scribbling out some insane game plans, the truth is that Taylor hasn't stepped up to before the alpha-dog, clutch scorer who takes over games. Part of that is probably due to the presences of Jermaine Beal and A.J. Ogilvy - and their absences in 2010-2011 will turn the season into a make-or-break year for Taylor's national standing and draft stock.
Anyone who watched this team in 2010 knows what Taylor is capable of - and how good he can be if he complements his explosiveness with some expanded shooting skills. His all-world athleticism and leaping ability makes his exclusion from Rivals' list a egregious oversight. However, the response from the national spotlight just got a bit clearer, and the lesson learned here is this; until Taylor can translate that athleticism on the court consistently, people aren't going to notice.
Jeffery Taylor is one of the Commodores' most explosive - and most valuable - assets going into next season. However, he'll have to play his way back into the mindset he was in when he dropped 26 points on Tennessee, or 19 points via 8-11 shooting against Ole Miss to earn his way into these preseason top ten lists. If he shrinks back into the player who failed to break double digits in the postseason again, the "most explosive" list might be his only hope to make a top ten ranking in 2011.