A renewed optimism for University of Houston basketball was again seen Thursday as prized recruit Cedric Taylor signed a letter of intent to attend UH this fall. He received a full scholarship.
He announced his official decision at a press conference Thursday, a week after the signing period began. He made his decision between UH and Louisville. Louisville, ironically, has just come under fire due to some rumors of past illegal recruiting.
Taylor, the 6-7 All-Greater Houston selection, will join Moses Malone Jr. and junior college transfer George Gervin Jr. as the Cougars' signees.
Many experts feel that Taylor is the second-best player in the state, behind only NBA-bound Rashard Lewis of Elsik. He may have one drawback, however, as he might be academically ineligible for a year due to Proposition 48 standards.
Just as Kenny Younger did two years ago, Taylor may attend UH-Downtown and not be able to receive academic support or practice with the team. But he said there was a chance he might be able to compete.
"I just have to finish (high school) real strong so I can play next year," Taylor said.
Taylor said he feels confident he can do well in college and was helped in his decision by the hire of Clyde Drexler and the proximity of UH to his mother and grandmother.
"(Drexler) can help me get to the league and can tell me how to get better. I just wanted for my mother and grandmother to come watch me play and so I made my decision over Easter break."
Taylor was the unanimous selection for the Most Valuable Player honors at this year's 4A State Championships as he led his team with 21.5 points per game, 15.3 rebounds and 8.3 blocks and the state title.
Waltrip coach Fred Smith, a former Cougar, had some interesting remarks about his star player.
"He is a better overall player than Rashard Lewis," he said. "He can handle the ball extremely well on the perimeter and he will probably play the three (small forward). He is the biggest recruit to come to UH since Hakeem Olajuwon."
Taylor was a bit disturbed that he never got the publicity that Lewis got.
"I had the best season of my life; I averaged almost a triple-double, and he got visited more than I did," Taylor said. "It bothered me a little because I never got any recognition. I worked hard and I should have gotten more than I did."
Taylor said he initially thought about going pro.
"It's a lot of money," he said. "It can set you up for life. But education was very important to me and my family."
UH assistant coach George Walker said he wants to send out a signal about the UH basketball program.
"We are going to keep our best players here in the city," he said. "We are excited about getting a player like Cedric Taylor. I think he brings a lot to the table in his scoring and his defense."
Cedric Taylor's senior stats
21.5 points per game
15.3 rebounds per game
8.3 blocks per game
4 steals per game
55% field goal
80% free throw