Women's basketball vs. SC State, 12/21/12
Darius Taylor joined the South Carolina staff in June 2010 for his second stint as an assistant to Dawn Staley. Taylor's experience both working for Staley at Temple and serving as the manager of community and player programs for the NBA Developmental League (NBADL) is the ideal background for his work with the Gamecocks' post players and the team's academic progress. His effort on both fronts have yielded important results as four Gamecock forwards/centers have earned All-SEC honors and the team has posted a GPA of 3.000 or higher in each of the last four semesters.
In four seasons at South Carolina, Taylor has made an impact on the program's post players. Despite being undersized for SEC standards for his first three campaigns, the Gamecocks steadily improved on the glass, culminating in leading the SEC and ranking 10th in the nation in rebounding margin in 2012-13. In Taylor's first season with significant height on the front line (2013-14), South Carolina was second in the nation in blocks per game, swatting a school-record 7.1 per outing, and 14th in rebounding margin (+8.8 per game). In 2013-14, center Alaina Coates became the first SEC Freshman of the Year to also earn another individual honor, taking home the Co-6th Player of the Year award as well. With Taylor's guidance, forward Aleighsa Welch is a two-time All-SEC selection and a honorable mention All-American (2014).
"Looking back to where we were when I got here and the progression we have made in the last few years is why I love to coach," Taylor said. "The lives we have touched and the hard work and dedication that our players have shown continues to fuel our success. I look forward to what the future holds for our program."
Prior to joining the Gamecock staff, Taylor worked for two years with the NBADL, promoting personal, professional and social development in the league's players. He devised a comprehensive program that educated players about nutritional health, money management and career development. Taylor implemented mentor and apprenticeship programs around the league to help players build a resume worthy of work off the basketball court in the future. He also oversaw the continuing education program, which helped players financially pursue their college degrees.
"My work with the D-League was pretty significant," Taylor said. "A lot of players are going through a hard transition from being college stars to falling just short of their dream of playing in the NBA. I wanted to help open their eyes to the opportunity that is still there and to have them think outside the box to learn the business and think in terms of what teams are looking for, what a player might be lacking and what off-the-court things he might be able to work on."
Taylor brings that background to his focus on the Gamecocks' academic endeavors and life skills programs. As the team's primary academic contact, he will work closely with academic advisors and professors to monitor players' academic progress. He will also work with the community to help integrate the team into the city of Columbia and the University through service projects.
"At the end of the day, I hope our players take from me an understanding that there is a bigger game than basketball - the game of life," Taylor said. "My larger focus outside of coaching is on helping them navigate, survive and be successful at that game. Sports is a microcosm of life. If you can do well at it and figure it out, that translates to the real world."
Before taking an off-the-court role with the NBADL, Taylor spent four seasons on Staley's staff at Temple, helping the Owls to consecutive Atlantic 10 Tournament titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances. He worked closely with former Owl Candice Dupree who closed her career with AP All-America honors in addition to being named A-10 Player of the Year and A-10 Defensive Player of the Year. Dupree was the sixth pick in the 2006 WNBA Draft, starting her career with the Chicago Sky before moving on the Phoenix Mercury for the 2010 season.
Taylor has two years of experience with USA Basketball, serving as its assistant director of competitive programs (2002-04). He got his first taste of coaching as a team leader at the Chicago Bulls Basketball Schools (2000-02). During that time, he served as an intern at the Big Ten Conference, working with the marketing and merchandising programs.
A four-year basketball letterwinner at the University of Michigan, Taylor was a Big Ten Academic All-American en route to his bachelor of arts in sport management and communications (2000).
The Taylor CapsuleCoaching Experience
South Carolina, assistant coach, 2010-present
Temple, assistant coach, 2004-08