July 22, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- On one hand, UW guard Jordan Taylor was prepared to make a one month commitment to USA Basketball if that’s what it took to earn a roster spot and compete in the 2011 World University Games.
“My heart was set on it from the get-go,’’ Taylor said.
On the other hand, Taylor is far more committed to making sure that he’s healthy for the start of his senior year at Wisconsin; a commitment that takes precedence over everything else.
“I owe that to my teammates, my coaches and myself,’’ Taylor said.
By having minor surgery on his ankle next week – thereby declining an invitation to take part in the USA training camp – Taylor has stayed in character by putting the team ahead of individual goals.
“It’s the appropriate decision,’’ he said. “While it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to play for your country, I had to do what’s best for my team, the Wisconsin Badgers. That’s the reality of it.’’
Taylor admitted wearing the USA jersey was a dream; something that he took seriously.
“I really wanted to play for USA Basketball; there’s no greater honor than that,’’ he said. “And I was looking forward to going head-to-head with (Xavier’s) Tu Holloway and (Syracuse’s) Scoop Jardine.
“I got to know Tu and Scoop this summer in a couple of basketball camps. And I wanted to play against them (in the tryouts) and hopefully with them eventually (in the World University games).
“I was also looking forward to playing for Coach Painter (Purdue’s Matt Painter). It’s just unfortunate that I have some circumstances that are holding me back and not allowing me to do that.
“It’s definitely a bummer. But I have to get ready for our season and by having the surgery now it will give me a chance to get completely healthy. We have a lot of goals for our team this year.’’
The USA training camp will be in Colorado Springs, Colo., (July 29-Aug. 7) during which time the 12 players will be selected to compete at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China (Aug. 13-23).
If he had made Team USA, he could have lived with the training, travel and time commitment. But he just felt like he could not risk delaying the surgery; not at the expense of Team Badger.
“My teammates are here at Wisconsin – these are my teammates for the entirety – it’s my family,’’ Taylor said. “I definitely owe it to them to be healthy going into my final year.’’
Despite all of his accomplishments, Taylor still sees room for improvement. “I still have a lot to prove,’’ he said. “I feel like I have a lot of parts of my game that I have to improve on.’’
Looking at the big picture, he added, “We have a lot of plans for the team and we have a lot of guys who have been working hard this summer; guys who feel like they have a lot to prove.
“Some of them are in a similar situation to what I was in going into last season – feeling like they have to earn respect by probably playing with a chip on their shoulder.’’
As for his own game, Taylor said, “I just want to put my best foot forward.’’
And he’s doing so, literally, by taking one for the team.