Lock down

first_imgBryce Taylor waited until everyone in his family was asleep before taking a pair of scissors and cutting all his hair off. Just like that, his popular dreadlocks – that were four years in the making – fell on the floor around him. It was nearly a year ago that Taylor, a starting guard for Oregon, was on spring break when he made the change. Taylor, who starred at Harvard- Westlake of Studio City, wanted an image overhaul. He was so unhappy with his sophomore season that he decided to get rid of any reminders of it. The meat of Taylor’s plan surrounded a rigorous offseason program, and the results of his spontaneous makeover seem straight out of “American Idol.” Taylor’s numbers are up in just about every statistical category, and his improved play helped Oregon (23-7) secure a No. 4 seed in this week’s Pacific-10 Conference Tournament with an 11-7 Pac-10 record. “I felt I was more recognized for my hair than my actual play on the court, and that’s the opposite of what I wanted,” Taylor said. “It was crazy. Something just came over me.” Taylor is averaging 14.6 points per game, 4.7 rebounds and is shooting 50percent from the field – up from 40percent last year. In 2006, Taylor had a fair season with 9.3 points per game, but not by his standards as Oregon fell flat with a 15-18record. The 6-foot-5 guard was frustrated because he wasn’t getting as many shots as he wanted. UCLA had something to do with Taylor’s renewed motivation. Taylor had just finished watching UCLA beat LSU in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament last year, which gave the Bruins a berth in the championship game. “I was watching guys I grew up with,” Taylor said. “I played with Jordan (Farmar) for so long and Arron (Afflalo). I saw them have the success I dreamed of. I felt I deserved to experience what they went through. I had to put my personal agenda aside and stop worrying about my stats. “That’s the one big thing I noticed with (UCLA). They all thrived in their role and did what they did best for the team. I felt I needed to mature as a person and player and make the sacrifices and put in the extra work.” center_img Taylor benefited from a six-week summer workout regimen in Encino with his dad, former NBA player Brian Taylor, and 12-year-old brother, Brendyn. Mostly, he worked out with his younger brother playing hoops, lifting weights and running the hills near their house. Brian Taylor was awfully proud. “I laugh because last summer was probably the first time I didn’t have to get on him and say, `Let’s go work out,”‘ Brian Taylor said. “His self-discipline came into play. His work ethic increased 100 percent. I probably worked Bryce out so much more before last year. The previous years finally clicked. He and his brother would say, `Dad, we don’t need you today.”‘ Many attributed Taylor’s improvements to his dad, which irked Brendyn a little bit. But Bryce Taylor isn’t ashamed to credit his younger brother with much of his success. “He’s … as honest as they come,” Bryce Taylor said. “He kept me focused while running hills. … He’s seen me grow up and how successful I was, and he saw me struggling. He said I just needed to work harder. It’s ironic that I was taking advice from my little brother.” Taylor had a game-high 22 points in Oregon’s 70-49 thrashing of Oregon State on Saturday. He’s one of just twoDucks to play and start all 30 games. There’s plenty of shooters in Eugene and only one basketball to go around. “He’s in a lot better shape and a lot of that had to do with his mind-set,” said guard Chamberlain Oguchi, who’s also Taylor’s roommate. “He just had to be as unselfish as he could, and that helped a lot.” The new Taylor is the best shape of his life. Last year, he tore a ligament in his knee and his recovery was slow. This year, he attributes his off-season program for his stamina. “He definitely got to that place we saw for him as someone who was unstoppable in terms of trying to shut him down offensively,” Oregon coach Ernie Kent said. “He can score, he can post you up and get to the hole, shoot the three. He still needs to work on his ballhandling and mid-range game, but he’s well on his way.” Taylor isn’t the best-known player on the Ducks’ roster. That distinction belongs to point guard Aaron Brooks, who leads the team in scoring at 18points per game and was in the running for the Pacific-10 Conference’s player of the year, which was awarded to Afflalo. Taylor has led Oregon in scoring in nine games and rebounding in five. Of course, opponents have to make a point to defend Brooks at all times, but that leaves Taylor, Tajuan Porter, Malik Hairston and others open. “I think the No. 1 thing that’s been a problem for us is that he’s a triple-threat kind of guy,” said Jeff Reinert, an Oregon State assistant coach. “… When they play him at power forward, it’s a very tough matchup.” Oregon got off to a smashing start this year with a 13-0 record and was ranked as high as No. 9 in the Associated Press poll. The Ducks suffered their first loss to USC, which ruined what would’ve been an undefeated matchup against UCLA at McArthur Court. The Ducks then beat UCLA but have gone 5-6 over their past 11 games. They have won their past three heading into Thursday’s first-round conference game against Arizona. Taylor is confident Oregon can make a big run in the NCAA Tournament. And if not this year, there’s always next year. Taylor said he’s coming back for his final year, even though he’ll graduate this summer with a sociology degree. Taylor’s smile will return. The dreadlocks won’t. Taylor’s mom, Terry Powell, and siblings, weren’t thrilled with his impromptu haircut since they adored his style. His dad loved it on so many levels. “It was probably a symbolic move for him,” Brian Taylor said. “This was a change of his whole mind-set. He figured he had to work harder and present himself smarter and improve his image. He wanted a fresh start.” Makeover complete. – on 9.8 shots per game [email protected] (818) 713-3615 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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