The season is long since over, but Ohio took another loss this month.
Sophomore guard Ryan Taylor has left the Ohio University men’s basketball program, Bobcats head coach Saul Phillips confirmed Monday.
Taylor will be released from his scholarship, Phillips said after the team’s Monday morning workout. Ohio confirmed his scholarship release later Monday afternoon. Taylor has not been present for the weekly two-hour workout sessions over the past three weeks.
A 6-foot-5 guard from Gary, Indiana, Taylor first indicated he wanted to leave Ohio only recently, Phillips said. As for why, Phillips said he was told only that Taylor’s decision to transfer was a “gut feeling.”
“I’m feeling a little puzzled, a little baffled,” Phillips said. “We weren’t given any kind of reason other than that.”
Taylor signed with Ohio in the late recruiting period in the spring of 2014. He was the second player brought to Athens by Phillips.
“It hurts any time you lose a kid,” the coach said.
“I really didn’t see it coming, and that’s what hurts the worst. I still don’t know quite why it happened,” he continued. “We’ve tried to communicate, but at some point it always came back to we couldn’t get any more answers other than it was a gut feeling.”
Ohio was the only offer Taylor had after he spent a season in prep school at St. John’s Northwestern Military.
Taylor had a long, lean frame and displayed flashes of promise in his first and only season as a Bobcat. He played in 29 of 30 games, and logged 28 starts. Taylor averaged a 30.1 minutes per game and finished fourth on the team in scoring with 8.1 points per game.
Taylor led the team in scoring in three games, and broke the 20-point mark just once — with 21 points in his collegiate debut against Appalachian State.
A case of mononucleosis, diagnosed in the non-conference season, perhaps stunted his development. Taylor’s numbers dipped in Mid-American Conference play, and he was a non-factor (5 points, 4 shots) in Ohio’s loss at Western Michigan in the season finale (MAC tourney first round).
Taylor shot 43.3 percent overall, 28.9 percent from 3-point range, and finished with 37 assists, 33 turnovers, 10 blocks and 12 steals.
Attempts to reach Taylor for comment were unsuccessful.
Taylor’s decision to transfer this summer isn’t optimal, for either him or the program. Most other programs have already filled needs with other transfers or recruiting, and Ohio will unlikely be able to bring in a player to fill the empty scholarship for the 2015-16 season. Phillips likely will use the scholarship to add a second player to the 2016 recruiting class.
“The timing of it is ridiculously bad. Had he come in after the year — but there was no indication at any point that there was something wrong,” Phillips said.
“I feel betrayed a little bit, hurt, disappointed, sad for the kid. All of the above.”
Taylor’s departure puts more pressure on Ohio’s 2015 recruiting class to fill the vacated minutes. The good news for the Bobcats is that the three perimeter players in the class — James Gollon, Jordan Dartis and Gavin Block — have all impressed this summer.
“If anything it has galvanized the team a little bit,” Phillips said.
“After watching our practices so far, we’re deep at that position. It doesn’t provide catastrophic holes to fill,” he continued. “ I just thought (Taylor) had a really big upside and I thought we saw glimpses of it. I thought we could make real progress with him.
“We won’t. Next up. Let’s go.”
Phillips said Ohio will release Taylor as soon as possible. As for possible landing spots, Taylor did receive some interest from Michigan last spring.
Taylor’s departure marks the third straight year the Bobcats have lost a player during the summer months. In 2013, Kansas transfer Anrio Adams spent six weeks in Athens before the two sides parted ways prior to the start of the fall semester. Last year, Kendall Crute — the lone holdover from former coach Jim Christian’s crop of recruits before his departure for Boston College — bailed on Ohio after just two weeks in July.
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