Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mississippi State lands top in-state junior, Myah Taylor

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This isn't the first time Vic Schaefer landed one of the best girl's basketball players in Mississippi. With his track record, it probably won't be his last.

In front of her teammates, coaches and family, Olive Branch junior point guard Myah Taylor committed to Mississippi State on Wednesday morning. The four-star 2017 prospect is ranked No. 41 nationally by ESPN and chose the Bulldogs over a laundry list of high-major offers including Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Arizona, Memphis and Georgetown.

The 5-foot-8 point guard is Mississippi State's top target in 2017, which was made apparent to Taylor and her high school coach throughout the recruiting process.

"The first thing Vic Schaefer told me was that Myah was his 2017 point guard," Lady Quistors coach Blake Jones said. "He has not recruited another point guard, he has not offered another point guard. Have they (MSU) gone to see others and shown interest? Sure, and every college coach has to do that because of the business, but Myah has always been priority No. 1 to Mississippi State."

Taylor led Olive Branch to a 31-1 record as a sophomore and back-to-back appearances in the Class 6A state championship game. She averaged 18.2 points, eight assists and five steals per game during the 2014-15 season. Over the summer, Taylor and her AAU team, the Alabama Southern Starz, won a national championship.

With her junior season beginning in less than a month, getting her commitment out of the way was critical for her focus.

"I thought it was better for me so I can focus on winning a state championship this year because we've lost two times in a row," Taylor said. "I've always wanted to go to Mississippi State and they've always been there. I thought that if I go ahead and commit now, especially with me already feeling like I'm a part of that family, it's better for me and my team."

Schaefer and his staff began recruiting Taylor as an 8th grader. Since he arrived in Starkville in 2012, Scahefer has landed commitments from four Dandy Dozen selections including Victoria Vivians (Scott Central), Blair Schaefer (Starkville), Jazzmun Holmes (Harrison Central) and now, Taylor.

For the first member of Mississippi State's 2017 class, Schaefer's pursuit of and ability to lock up the state's top talent was a driving force in Taylor's decision.

"He goes after these players so hard," she said. "Him getting the top players opens my eyes like, "why not State?" I would love to play with the best of the best players. For me, I probably relate more to the Mississippi girls, too, and they could probably even start five Mississippi girls when I get there which is very important to me."

Not only has Schaefer made signing the best in-state players a priority but has had success drawing national talent to Starkville. Former five-star center Teaira McCowan is a marquee member of MSU's 2015 class, which was ranked No. 18 nationally.

But focusing his efforts heavily in Mississippi is what gave him an in with the top junior in the Magnolia State and could help him land others. While MSU has limited space in its 2016 class and will likely have one scholarship available, the Bulldogs already have an in with top 2017 guard Nyah Tate (Terry).

"Vic told me since Day 1 that his ultimate goal every year is to get the best girl in the state to come to Mississippi State," Jones said. "That's priority No. 1. Their slogan, after all, is (This is) "Our State." If you don't go for your in-state girls, there's going to be another Myah Taylor or Victoria Vivians come along. Southern Miss recruited her hard, Ole Miss not as much as I would've liked. If you want to go out of state and fly places to get other kids, that's fine but it seems to me it'd be a big advantage to keep these players closer to home."

The Lady Bulldogs enter the 2015-16 season coming off the best finish in program history (27-7) and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010.

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