Sitting in the third row of the Convocation Center at every Ohio men’s basketball home game in a hoodie and black hat is Doug Taylor Sr. – the father of Bobcat sophomore power forward Doug Taylor. He’s constantly hollering at his son to run the floor, serving as his most vocal supporter and loudest critic from the stands. The two men have been through a lot together to get to this point.
The younger Taylor has become the Bobcats’ defensive anchor and physical enforcer off the bench this season. While most of the current Ohio roster is filled with reserved personalities who never seem to get too high or too low on the court, Taylor is not that character. Not even close.
He’s the most vocal and passionate player on the team. His flare has resulted in a few technical fouls this season but Ohio head coach Saul Phillips sees Taylor as an invaluable asset to his team playing as it is without star big-man Antonio Campbell (out for year with broken foot).
“Make no mistake about it, without Doug Taylor right now we are in really bad shape,” Phillips acknowledged after the ’Cats demolished Bowling Green 95-75 on Feb. 18. Taylor contributed eight rebounds, two blocks, and four personal fouls in 14 minutes off the bench.
Taylor sends opponents’ shots flying out of bounds with emphatic blocks that get the crowd energized. He plays with emotion that sometimes leads to him punching holes in the basket stanchion during practice. If an opponent gets too frisky with a teammate, Taylor is the first Bobcat to launch himself into the confrontation as protection.
“[Taylor] is different than everybody is,” Phillips said. “He has potential to impact the game in a way that is different than anyone else on the floor for us. The kid’s a survivor and a pretty inspirational story.”
Taylor’s story starts with the willpower of his father, who raised his son as a single parent working a fulltime job in inner-city Columbus. Taylor’s mother died of cancer when he was 6. The rough beginnings shaped Taylor into the volatile, yet charismatic competitor he is today.
“My fire is from my dad that he put into me to be a man,” Taylor Jr. said. “No matter what, don’t let anybody get the best of you. I bring that a lot on the court because I hate losing. So if we’re down and I see everything’s going wrong, I’m going to say something.”
Learning how to sublimate the emotions rooted in losing his mother into beneficial energy while playing sports eluded Taylor at first. In fact, learning the language of basketball is something Taylor still does every day during practice. He has only played basketball for five years after initially playing defensive end in football until ninth grade at Northland High School.
Taylor said the possibility of attending college did not even enter his mind until his senior year in high school, when he received his first scholarship offer to play basketball at Miami (Ohio) University. After his freshman year in Athens, Taylor spent the offseason building muscle to transform his body into the imposing interior presence he’s become for the second-place Bobcats (18-8, 10-5 Mid-American) this season.
“I used to express [his mother’s death] in anger but now I express it in motivation and let it fuel my motor,” Taylor said. “When I feel like I’m being lazy, I just think… would she want me to take advantage of my situation here, or would she want me to just sit on my butt and stay the same?”
Most of what Taylor brings to the court for Ohio does not show up in the box score. He is averaging 4.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 14 minutes per game this season.
One former NBA player Taylor admires is four-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace. Wallace is also listed at 6-9 and was known as a prolific rebounder and shot blocker mainly with the Detroit Pistons during the early to mid 2000’s. Nobody on the court wanted to mess with Ben Wallace back in those days.
“I watched a lot of Ben Wallace highlights in my free time,” Taylor said. “He reminds me of myself – real big, mean, just always at the right place at the right time and a physical presence on the floor.”
Whether or not Taylor’s future takes him to the NBA like Wallace, his uncut emotions on the court rooted in his past sets him apart from the rest of his Bobcat teammates in the eyes of his coach.
“I like being around him. I like what he’s about,” Phillips said. “When he walks out of here with a degree, that may be one I’m just a little prouder of then the rest.”