Despite occasionally laying more bricks than a mason, Brandon Taylor's freshman year was a pleasant surprise. The freshman quickly worked his way into Pat Chambers' rotation and was the second man off the bench in most games.
With Sasa Borovnjak leaving and NEVER COMING BACK, the only "big men" on Penn State's roster that played in at least 20 games last season are Ross Travis and Taylor. I know Chad argued that JUHMAINE is the most under appreciated player on Penn State's roster, but I'd argue Taylor. And I'd win.
As the numbers show, the grind of a full season mixed with playing in the toughest conference in America really took its toll on Taylor, whose numbers slipped once conference play started across the board (save for two categories). Taylor also struggled with efficiency, throwing down a 45.2 TS% and a 44.0 eFG%, although some of that can be attributed to the fact that only DJ Newbill and Jermaine Marshall had higher USG%'s than him. Again, wore down. Final advanced stat: he had a PER of 7.9. *vomits everywhere*
In non-advanced stats, Taylor was second on the team in FT% (68.8 percent) and was tied for 3rd on the team in blocked shots. Taylor finished the season averaging 5.3 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 20.2 MPG. Taylor also played in all 31 games, starting in 18.
For a freshman, Taylor played pretty well. Most of his struggles on the year, particular this nasty habit of his to foul everyone on the opposing team and his inconsistency from the field, can be attributed to the fact that he's still young and wore down as the season went on (I'll let one of you blow a hole in my logic by mentioning how horrendous of a shooter Ross Travis is in the comments).
However, I'd argue that B-Titty (either I make that nickname stick or I'm gonna die trying) was at his best when he got his ass down low and battled. He was 4th on the team in total rebound percentage and second on the team in defensive rebound percentage. Seeing as how it's not insane to think he'll be playing the 5 at times next year, you should probably get used to Post Taylor and not Perimeter Taylor.
Most of his issues we've already touched on. He averaged 2.7 fouls per game, despite playing in 20 MPG. Basically, per 40 minutes, he averaged 5.4 fouls per game, which would be fine if...wait, that's not fine, that's terrible.
Also, while I've mentioned that he was horrifically inefficient, Taylor went 8-41 from three in the team's last 12 games. BRANDON STAAAAAAHP.
vs Bucknell - 16 pts (6-11 shooting, 4-8 from 3), 3 reb 20 min.
If Taylor didn't play like that against the Bison, Penn State loses. It's that simple. It was one of his most efficient performances on the season and is something PSU will need from him in the future. Hey, speaking of that...
Taylor will probably play everywhere from the 3 to the 5. If he can refine his shooting, he'll be a matchup nightmare, as he'll be too big for guards and too quick for big men. If he can't refine his shooting, he's going to need to develop a low post game, both offensively (which he kinda has) and defensively (which he kinda doesn't have).
If he can't do either of those things, don't expect him to be much of a factor next season. He'll get time, but guys like Donovon Jack, Ross Travis and *gulp* Jon Graham eat into his minutes.
Final Grade: C+
Taylor certainly had some struggles, but he gets graded on a bit of a curve for being a freshman. He showed flashes of a stud, but he also had some games where he looked like...well...a freshman. When he was on, he looked like a guy that could be a legitimate 3rd scoring threat for the Nittany Lions. When he was off? He looked like someone who didn't deserve to be playing a D1 sport (not unlike Manti Te'o in the national title game, when you think about it).
When you take his absolute best (B+ or A- caliber) and mix it with his absolute worst (D or F), then grade him on a freshman curve, B-Titty gets a C+.