After Taking A Step Back To The Pro B Can Kameron Taylor (Dragons Rhondorf) Take Two Steps Forward To The BBL?

Early in the 2017-2018 Pro B season in late October, Dragons Rhondorf fans were witnessing an entertaining and exciting duel against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors who had been massive under dogs coming into the game as they only dressed 7 players as some of their key BBL double license players like Garai Zeeb were playing at the same time in Munich and weren´t available. Instead of running out the clock and being ready to celebrate an easy 20 plus point win, the Dragons Rhondorf were clinging to life as the game was dead locked at 80-80 with 11,2 seconds to play, but the Dragons team had possession. It was that moment in the game that Kameron Taylor had seen before and that time where he especially comes to life as having the ball in his hands when it counts most is when he flourishes and is in his special element. Back at Seton Hill(NCAA2), the Maryland native had celebrated some huge moments with game winning shots against Gannon and Edinboro, but was still waiting for that first professional game winning buzzer beater and against Frankfurt he would help propel himself another step into Dragons Rhondorf heaven and history. As the ball was inbounded, Taylor got the ball and had control of the court and everyone in the gym knew he would make that last play. Taylor was focused on the basket and this was the moment where he blocked everything out and saw only himself the basket and his man Englishman Jules Akodo. With the seconds winding down quickly he met Akodo at the three point line at the top of the key with six seconds and after a few dribbles lost a bit of the handle and almost lost the ball with three seconds, but gathered himself went briefly to his right and had his man off balance and fired away unleashing a lethal step back jumper that saw nothing but net and brought the whole Dragon Dome into an electric frenzy. It had been the club´s sixth game of the season and third home win in a row which had upped their record to 5-1. The season had been a total turnaround from the disappointing last season where the club had to fight in the playdowns to stay in the league and did, but the whole experience had been nothing for weak nerves. This season has been a total 180 degree turn as the club currently has a 15-5 record in second place in the Pro B south standings. A big reason for the success has been the incredible dominance of American Kameron Taylor who is on course of winning the Pro B 2018 MVP and the team have legitimate chances of winning the title as well. So often the success of the team is based a lot on the how well the player performs and meshes with his teammates and that has been the case with Taylor. But in a way Taylor shouldn´t even have been in the Pro B simply because he is way to good. It was his choice coming to the Pro B after having a solid Pro A season with Ehingen as a rookie. “Sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward”, warned Kameron Taylor. He is on his best way of getting back to a higher league next season. However not only the Pro A will be calling, but perhaps even the easyCredit BBL.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Dragons Rhondorf guard Kameron Taylor after his brilliant 31 point, 8 rebound, six assist and 3 steal explosion in 90-72 win over the Bayer Giants Leverkusen

Before Taylor became a living legend in the small city Bad Honnef by the Rhein in Germany, he had to learn the fundamentals at Seton Hill(NCAA).

After learning his early basketball craft at DeMatha Catholic, he went to Seton Hill and was able to develop his game very well there at his own pace. The American was never the most talented guy on the court, but a player that never took a day off during his 4 year career at Seton Hill(NCAA2) and had to work very hard for everything. His hard work crafting his skills reflected in his stats as he was able to improve his scoring average each season. As a 198cm guard, he was always a menace on the glass for a guard and gave the term “ a guard helping out on the boards” a new meaning as he never averaged less than 4,8rpg and also averaged 6,4rpg and 7,6rpg in two seasons there. He brought those rebounding qualities to the professional level and with Rhondorf is currently averaging 7,6rpg. He came to Seton Hill as a very raw talent, but through his dedication to the game and hard work left as a player that had grasped the fundamentals and was an all around good player that had that versatility that helped shape him into the complete player that he is today. “Boxing out, help side defense, making a good screen, and moving without the ball, are all just a few of things that my past programs have taught me make you more of a threat as a basketball player. It helps you and your team become more dangerous”, warned Kameron Taylor.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Dragons Rhondorf guard Kameron Taylor after leading his team with 17 points past FC Bayern Munich 2, 85-64

In his senior season he played 27 games averaging 20.8ppg, 8.7rpg, 4.1apg, 2.2spg, 1.0bpg, FGP: 49.6%, 3PT: 36.1%, FT: 76.8%. He even produced a triple double against Shippensburg with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, but couldn´t celebrate after as his team lost on a buzzer beater. Not only hard work that Taylor invested at Seton Hill helped him mature into a stellar professional player, but also getting the non-ending trust from his head coach Tony Morocco who prepared him to test the waters overseas. “He pushed me as well as the team to continue to work out and shoot outside of regular schedule practices. The coaching staff was very good on being available for us to work on our game”, stressed Kameron Taylor. Even if he did play in the NCAA2, one has to wonder how he would have performed on a higher stage, but even if Seton Hill isn´t as known as say a Seton Hall where guys like Isaiah Whitehead, Sam Delambert, Jordan Theodore, Eddie Griffin or Rimantas Kaukenas learned their expertise basketball trade, people often mixed up Seton Hill with Seton Hall when asking him where he went to school, but he loved his school and was happy that he got the chance to play there. “Literally every occasion I have to correct people. I’m very proud of my school, I was able to create great relationships with teammates, classmates, coaches, teachers, and administrators. I appreciate the memories from Seton Hill“, stressed Kameron Taylor. But not only Taylor´s game flourished with the Seton Hill(NCAA2) coaching staff and game experience, but also with his best friend James Robinson who he was teammates with  in high school, but Robinson´s route went a different one to the NCAA with Pittsburgh and now in the EasyCredit BBL with medi Bayreuth. There is not one once of jealously from Taylor, but moreover love and respect. “James is more of a brother to me. I have a lot of respect for James, he has earned everything he has and probably deserves more. We are constantly pushing each other to become better players in the off season. I continue to learn something new every time we work out. We both will continue to raise our game and work our way up the ladder”, added Kameron Taylor.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Dragons Rhondorf guard Kameron Taylor after dropping 24 points and a buzzer beater against the Fraport Skyliners Juniors in 82-80 win

Taylor played his rookie season in the Pro A last season with Ehingen playing 29 games averaging 10.8ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.3apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 50.0%, 3PT: 43.9%, FT: 80.2%. He scored in double figures in 15 games and demonstrated on many occasions that he had the game to be a very good pro A player as he hit Chemnitz in his first professional game for 28 points, scored 25 points against Baunach and netted 21 points against Kirchheim. He averaged 23 minutes per game, but his minutes fluctuated through out the season as there were times where he was the work horse averaging 30 plus minutes and 11 games where he averaged under 20 minutes per game. All in all it was a respectable rookie season where he showed his shooting accuracy from outside which isn´t even his biggest strength as his mid distance and penetration to the hoop are his strong points. Going into his second professional season, he had good offers including from the Pro A, but instead of adding a second season in the Pro A and trying to build on his rookie season, he took a step back from the Pro A and went to the Pro B to the Dragons Rhondorf. Every decision always has a reason and for Taylor he wasn´t thinking from day to day, but rather down the road to where he wants to be in the next few years. “Rhondorf gave me a direct access to learn and train with the Telekom Baskets BBL team in where I can not only compete with the highest competition but also see where my skill and athleticism is compared to the athletes of the BBL, and can directly help Rhondorf and keep my gameplay high for the Pro B”, warned Kameron Taylor. He joined the Telekom Baskets Bonn in training camp before the Pro B season started and made a very good impression there. Top easyCredit BBL center and ex Miami Hurricane Julian Gamble is always good in interviews and has a knack of describing good talent and was more than smitten by the play of Taylor. “Kam can absolutely play at the BBL level. He was with us in camp and out tested everyone on our team in speed and quickness. He brings great energy to the game on both ends of the floor and I think he has a unique opportunity to practice and be around us a lot this season to help him develop and see what he needs to do to be on this level. I don’t think it would be a bold prediction on my part to say that he will one day play in the BBL“, warned Julian Gamble. It also hasn´t hurt that Taylor has had a mentor in experienced Josh Mayo pushing him each day in practice. “Josh is a great player, I respect him a lot because he affects the game in all facets. I learn a lot from just watching him play. He definitely increases my IQ and experience”, stressed Kameron Taylor. With all the practice time with the Telekom Baskets Bonn, there might just be an opportunity with them next season. The summer will be a very interesting one for Kameron Taylor.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Kameron Taylor after he dropped a massive 37 points in the 95-72 victory against the EN Baskets Schwelm

It has been a fascinating season for the Dragons Rhondorf and it makes it a joy to come to home games as the club only lost once this season against Giessen who were severely limited with only 7 players including three youth players and probably their most bitter loss of the season. They had two blow out loses in Giessen and Elchlingen and loses in Leverkusen and Frankfurt, but other than that they have played very good basketball. A healthy team chemistry was already seen early on. “I really enjoy the team, we have great chemistry on and off the court. I especially think the chemistry off the court is important because it eliminates selfishness between the team. I feel we are a defensive team that can get out run as well as run a good half court offense. I expect a really good season because our success will depend on us coming out ready to play every game”, stressed Kameron Taylor. The fact that the club has had a shake up in the roster as imports KJ Sherril, Ronalds Elksnis and Kevin Thomas have departed and even if Kamerom Taylor is the club´s main scoring threat and Mr everything, it has been the German role players like Thomas Michel, Valentin Blass,Yannick Kneesch, Alexander Moeller and Anton Geretzki that have been the back bone of the team as they have had a consistency among them not seen often at the Pro B level for a group of young Germans. “They all provide great three point shooting and all three of them are versatile playing more than one position. Vale has developed his total game over the season and found himself in the starting lineup as a reward. Tommy is probably the most versatile player on the team, he is able to play and guard all positions and is able to score at all levels (mid range, 3 point, getting to the basket). He has been a very important key to our success. Yannick also creates matchup problems for bigs as he is able to shoot the 3 at high and efficient rate but also quick enough to make a move to get to the basket. He strong enough to guard the 5 position and quick enough to guard the 4 position. With these three guys it’s easy to see why we are top of the league. Alex has really developed over the course of the season. But it is no surprise as he practices with Bonn and is usually always head to head with the one of the leagues best Julian Gamble. When Alex is facing BBL bigs 3-4 times a week it’s easy to see vast improvements in his game. Tony has become a total package. He has so much potential in being a 203m guard that can shoot. One of his qualities that has been overlooked is his ability to see the floor and read plays before they happen as he gets more experience and as the season continues and as we approach the playoffs, his role will become bigger and bigger”, warned Kameron Taylor. They are a good scoring team having produced 80 points or more 10 times, a solid defensive team having given up 75 points or less 12 times and strong rebounding team averaging 35 a game. However their biggest strength is that team chemistry that was established early on and has been continuing to grow coupled with the consistent play of the German role players. Taylor and the team have only one goal in mind and know what has to be done in the stretch run, “Our Ultimate goal is Pro B Champions. It’s to the point of the season where every win is important, the league is so competitive. Shows that anyone can win or lose at any given night. So our job is to make sure we take care of our business. We have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable meaning we can never feel like we can let down. When we do that we will continue our success”, warned Kameron Taylor.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Kameron Taylor after his masterful 22 point, 10 rebound, seven assist and 8 steal game in 72-58 win against TG s.Oliver Wurzburg with his agent Jens Weller looking on

Not only is it a delight to visit the Dragon Dome every other weekend to see impressive Dragons Rhondorf basketball, but also to witness what Kameron Taylor will be able to do on the court every time he steps on it. Some fans come to the Dragon Dome to witness fine basketball while others come only to see what Taylor will do in his next game. His stats are staggering as currently he is averaging 23,3ppg, 7,7rpg and 5,8apg while shooting 37,7% from outside. He has scored in double figures in all 20 games and scored 20 points or more 15 times and 30 points or more five times including a 37point explosion against Schwelm and 35 point outburst against Coburg. A few months ago, it was more how many points would he make, but since January it´s been can he produce another triple double. Taylor came into the Pro B and produced from the get go scoring 24 points in Wurzburg and 31 points at home against the Bayer Giants Leverkusen in wins. He demonstrated from the start that he wouldn´t leave anything blank on the stat sheet as he has had steals in 18 of 20 games including a 8 steal game against Wurzburg and has four blocks against Giessen. “I play where the coach needs me to play. I feel that I am able to too affect the game in all facets. So whatever the team needs to win I am willing to do. I like to do a little of everything like Russell Westbrook does because he is also a stat stuffer”, expressed Kameron Taylor. His shot selection also has been very good as he is shooting 56% from the field. “I usually try not to force things and just take what the defense gives me. Last year I had teammates that were able to create and make it easy for me to score. My role from last year and this year has changed. Sometimes I must be a little more aggressive to create for myself and my teammates. I still take what the defense gives me but I makes sure that I put myself in positions well I’m comfortable to find the open man or hit the shot I work on in practice each day”, added Kameron Taylor. Even if Taylor did the unusual producing two back to back home triple doubles against Coburg and Dresden, Taylor is always looking forward and wanting to get better never being satisfied. With the help of his good friend Julian Gamble, Taylor knows what things he needs to work on to reach the next level. “ I understand the higher the level the better the defenders. So me being able to score in three dribbles or less will be very important so that has been one of things I’ve focused on this year and will continue to focus on over the summer“, warned Kameron Taylor. Taylor´s stellar defense seems a bit overshadowed due to his amazing scoring, but with his length, long arms, leaping ability and overall under the radar athleticism, he is a major factor why the team is such a strong transition team. He also continues to look ahead how he can continue to be a force on the defensive end and get better. “I think being able to disrupt the offensive player without being over aggressive will be what I work on for the next level”, added Kameron Taylor.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Kameron Taylor after dropping 28 points and hauling down 12 rebounds in 84-77 loss in Frankfurt

His teammates have made him better through out the course of the season, but two guys that also deserve a lot of credit for helping Taylor get the success on the court have been Viktor Frankl-Maus and head coach Thomas Adelt. Frankl-Maus led the Pro B in assists last season at 7 dimes a game and is a little in the shadow of Taylor, but one of the most humble German players around and in a way with Taylor the other key leader on the team while Adelt like Taylor is a rookie in the Pro B, but has matured nicely as a coach. “I love playing with Viktor. He sets up everyone for easy baskets. He makes it easy for everyone to score because his passes are timely and accurate. He is also a great shooter so as a defender it’s dangerous to help off of him. He has made me better by challenging me in each week in shooting competitions (I win sometimes lol) and also allows me to score without having the ball in my hands which makes it tougher on the defense and easier for me. Coach Thomas has helped me by always putting me in positions to be successful. He knows my strengths and weaknesses and he puts me positions where I can be effective. He also improves my weaknesses through the practice week. I would say The biggest impact he had on me is that he gives me confidence and trust. Not only me but the whole team and as a player, the weight of fear of making a mistake is lifted off your shoulders”, stressed Kameron Taylor. Even if you have only seen the fierce competitor in Taylor during the 40 minutes on the court, one of his most enchanting attributes away from his game is his warm smile and laugh that would infect any person young to old as he is the guy anyone can approach and leave after a few minutes happy as one can feel a good character after only a few minutes of spoken words from him. His character is noticed by everyone and more than appreciated by everyone. “It has been great playing with Kam. He’s been a leader on and off the court. I like how he is a fierce competition and loves to see his teammates do good as well. Also he has been a great friend off the court, he has helped me a lot with getting settled here and showing me around”, stressed teammate Brandon Watkins. One notices after every game in the Dragon Dome that Taylor is more than content with his current situation. “The season has been great not only because the team is successful but because I have bonded with each and everyone of my teammates and created relationships that I’m positive will go beyond the season. I was able to bring out my mom and show her a great time in Germany with the help of the fans and the management. This season has already been a personal success. Now we want the ultimate goal”, warned Kameron Taylor. It would be very difficult to imagine how wide his smile would get should that Pro B title become a reality with the Dragons Rhondorf. With Rhondorf heading to the playoffs and possible title, Kameron Taylor on MVP course and being able to test his abilities against the best each day in practice with Bonn as well as putting up huge numbers with Rhondorf in the Pro B, nobody is doubting his decision to take a step back anymore.

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Miles Schmidt-Scheuber interviewing Kameron Taylor after dropping his second triple double in a row at home with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the 91-74 win against the Dresden Titans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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