By MARCUS HELTON
Charles Taylor’s winding path to a Division I scholarship has reached a destination.
The Mt. Zion Prep 2013 wing verbally committed to Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) on Saturday, becoming the first Division I commitment for the new Mt. Zion program.
The high-flying 6-foot-4, 185-pound Taylor also had offers from Loyola, Jackson State and Mississippi Valley State.
“I felt I could come in right away and just get it done,” Taylor said of his reasons for picking UMBC. “It’s an up and coming school, and what they said is a player like me can come in and make it even better.”
Taylor said he visited UMBC two weeks ago with his mother, and felt good about its proximity to his family’s Virginia home. Taylor said he wasn’t concerned about the interim status of current UMBC coach Aki Thomas, who took over after Randy Monroe’s resignation last month.
“None at all, because the whole UMBC coaching staff is really for me and I know that they have my back in this instance,” he said. “I’m pretty sure Coach Thomas is going to end up getting the UMBC coaching job.”
Taylor spent the first two years of his high school career at Battlefield (Va.) High, then moved to Montrose Christian for his junior campaign. He transferred to National Christian after that season to finish up the academic year, and spent his final year at Springbrook. He joined Mt. Zion's new program this summer to improve his strength and perimeter shooting and earn more college interest.
“The feeling is great,” Taylor said. “I know I’ll be able to get a good education and play Division I basketball next year. It’s not a load off, because there’s always more room for improvement and work. But I’m glad it’s happened.”
Mt. Zion associate head coach Brian Scott said he feels Taylor will be a good fit at UMBC.
“They explained that they’re getting ready to start running a more uptempo offense,” Scott said, “and Charles fits into that style of play. So that’s the reason why I’m comfortable with it; I think it’s a great opportunity for him, and plus Charles wanted to go to a school that was far away but close enough to where his family could come see him play and I think it’s a great opportunity for him.”
Mount Zion forward Rodney Hawkins also holds an offer from UMBC, and several other players have also attracted D-I interest.
“It’s a great thing.,” Scott said. “When you think back to when you first start a program and recruiting a Charles Taylor, we knew that he was probably going to fall in line to be one of our first guys to commit to a school, and the plan is unfolding like that. Charles was the first to commit, and we have some other kids who are there and if they follow suit and do what he does, I think we’ll have a great year. I think we’ll get all 11 of our kids in college, and that’s the main goal.”