Confidence is everything in life, and that includes basketball. Despite being blessed with a whole lot of natural talent, Vanderbilt forward Jeff Taylor could never seem to produce consistently. This season, head coach Kevin Stallings sat down with the 6-foot-7, 225-pound senior and explained to him that he wasn't expected to be perfect each and every night.
"I just told Jeff that he couldn't allow great to be the enemy of good," Stallings told Chris Dortch for NBA.com. "And that good was more than acceptable a lot of the time. We would take great when we could get it, but we didn't want to feel bad about good."
In 2011/12, it was clear that Taylor listened to his coach's advice and saw his level of play improve significantly to close out his collegiate career. The native of Hedvig, Sweden averaged a career-best 16.1 PPG while still shooting 49.3% from the floor. Perhaps most impressively, Taylor stepped up his perimeter game, going from a 34.5% three-point shooter in his junior season to 42.3% in his senior year. Taylor has always shown that he can beat his defender to the basket but he added a new dimension to his offensive game in 2011/12 and showed scouts that he can be a well-rounded scorer at the next level.
Scouts are pleased with Taylor's new found stroke from the outside but are still concerned about the forward's ability to create his own shot. Taylor isn't clumsy with the basketball but he's not Rafer Alston either and ball handling will never be his strong suit. His stock also isn't helped by his age: Taylor celebrated his 23rd birthday last week and some fear that he doesn't have as much room to grow as others on the board.
Where will Taylor wind up? DraftExpress has Taylor at No. 27 on their top 100 and predicts that he will be tabbed at No. 26 by the Pacers. ESPN.com's Chad Ford also has Taylor as the 27th best prospect in the draft and sees him going No. 28 to the Thunder. It seems to be a safe bet that Taylor will land somewhere late in the first round but the small forward can improve his stock by displaying his outside shot and quality defense for teams in the coming weeks.