Anyone who has had the privilege of following Terry Taylor throughout his career likely saw this day coming.
While the greatest basketball player in Austin Peay State University’s history was not one of the 60 names called during the 2021 NBA Draft Thursday night, his NBA journey officially began soon after.
At 12:46 a.m. CT on July 30, 2021, ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski sent out a tweet that turned Clarksville from red and white to navy blue and gold – something many may have never thought possible.
Wojnarowski reported that Taylor, represented by the agency RBA Sports LLC, had agreed to a training camp deal with the Indiana Pacers.
While the deal only guarantees Taylor a spot on the Pacers during the team’s training camp that is scheduled to begin Sept. 28, it still puts the program’s all-time leading scorer on the short-list of Governors who have made it to the game’s highest level.
Only four APSU alumni – Trenton Hassell, Otis Howard, Barry Sumpter and Bubba Wells – have reached the NBA, with Hassell the only to experience longevity in the league, having enjoyed a 10-year career from 2001-2010.
Fly Williams and Howard Wright also made the pros, playing for the American Basketball Association (ABA) in the early to mid 70s; however, neither played for more than two seasons with their respective teams.
Taylor’s reign of dominance over the Ohio Valley Conference began his freshman season, with the Bowling Green, Ky. native taking home the OVC’s 2018 Freshman of the Year award despite being in a class that featured the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Mu**ay State’s Ja Morant.
The list of achievements Taylor accomplished throughout his four years at Austin Peay are seemingly endless, but to condense it down some: He received two OVC Player of the Year awards (2020, 2021), four First Team All-OVC nominations, eight national watchlist appearances and 17 OVC Player of the Week honors, a conference record.
He also became the OVC’s only player to rank top-10 in both scoring and rebounding, leading the conference in both categories in 2020 and 2021, and was the school’s all-time leader in points, minutes and field goals…but that all just scratches the surface of dominance that was Terry Taylor.
Despite the seemingly endless list of achievements, many have overlooked Taylor throughout his career because his game is not that of what many would expect out of a 6-5 NBA wing.
Making his living down low, Taylor ended his career as the nation’s active leader in rebounds, total field goals and double-doubles — something one would likely expect from a person of a larger stature.
However, Taylor has heard the criticism about his style of play each step of his career. D.G. Sherrill, Taylor’s head coach at Bowling Green High School, told The All State in April that his style of play even shied away many college coaches from recruiting him.
Still, Taylor will need to put on a show for Pacers’ GM Chad Buchanan and newly signed head coach Rick Carlisle in order to ink a deal beyond the team’s training camp, whether it be a two-way contract or a full-time position on the team.
Now with his name linked to one of the NBA’s 30 franchises, the former King of the OVC is finally seeing years of hard work pay off on basketball’s largest stage, even still with much to work on and the world to prove.
Those close to the aspiring star know he will stop at nothing to make his childhood dreams become a reality.