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Top 30 Seasons Under Bill Self: #14 Tyshawn Taylor 2012

Let’s get it out of the way early: Tyshawn shouldn’t have dunked.

Dunk aside, I have some personal somewhat interesting memories of Tyshawn. I was on his bandwagon early and the only ever argument I got into in the stands at Allen Fieldhouse was during his junior season when there was an argument about whether he was good (happy to report he was good and I was correct). I also remember writing a scouting report/preview piece on him (that has somehow been lost to the ether) that was criticized by Tyshawn himself even though I was exceedingly positive. That was a fun one.

Tyshawn has always been a fan favorite of mine, though. Some of the earliest arguments I got into in the comments here were about how good he was or would end up being (happy to report I was of course correct about all of them). In 2012 he rewarded fans’ patience with an All-American season and a run to the national title game. He led the Big 12 in minutes played in 2012 and ranked in the top 10 in usage, effective field goal percentage, defensive win shares, and win shares. His 2012 season ranks 4th since 2008 amongst Jayhawks in usage rate, showing how much that team leaned on both he and Thomas Robinson. He also ranks 2nd in assist rate and 20th in steal rate in that time frame while also shooting 52 percent from two and 38 percent from three that season.

And clutch? Oh yeah. Tyshawn made some huge plays down the stretch of the final Border War game, including making the two game winning free throws. He also scored the clinching free throws in the Final Four win over Ohio State, and had a steal with just six seconds left which would have all but clinched the victory except he then threw it out of bounds rather than dribbling it out (which really was the Tyshawn Taylor experience in a nutshell).

The high turnover rate drove down Taylor’s value a bit, but on that 2012 team especially Kansas could live with it because the entire offense was driven by Thomas Robinson on the inside and Taylor’s ability to drive to the rim (and his added 3-point prowess). Ideally I would rather have a point guard who takes care of the ball a bit better, but that would have caused the 2012 offense to stagnate way too much, and it would have resulted in fewer shots for Kansas’s best players.

In the end, Tyshawn remains criminally underrated. He is the only KU player since 2010 to have a usage rate higher than 27 percent, an assist rate over 29 percent, and PPG over 16. Arbitrary end points of course, but overall it points to how versatile and valuable Tyshawn was in 2012, and why he belongs this high on the list.

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