Taylor's Play Earns him First-Team Honors

Jordan Taylor (AP)

Although he didn't get much publicity when the season started, junior point guard Jordan Taylor has turned himself into one of the best point guards in the country, something the Big Ten media and coaches recognized on Monday.

MADISON – There was no way Jordan Taylor was going to be left off this list.

Finishing fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (18.2 ppg) and assists (4.83 per game) and tops in the nation with a scintillating 4.26 assist-to-turnover ratio, Taylor, a junior that wasn't on anybody preseason award list, was named a first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the media and the coaches on Monday.

"To do the things that he has accomplished to this point - and I certainly hope he has a lot more in him - because it's fun to want," said UW coach Bo Ryan of Taylor, who was named a unanimous selection by the media. "He's just had that kind of season where he's made things happen for his teammates and for himself to put us where we are. He's earned it.

"I don't know of that many guys in the league that did more for their teams the way he did with the numbers that show he's not a one-man show."

Taylor did get help from his teammates, like senior Jon Leuer, who joined Taylor on the coaches' All-Big Ten first team and was on the second team by the media, but his most memorable performances were the ones where he simply took control of the game.

Taylor's 27 points, 21 of which came in the second half, against No.1 Ohio State in Madison on Feb.12 were one of the more clutch performances in the program history while his 39 points against Indiana last week were the mark of a balanced performer – finishing 11 for 19 from the field, including a 7 for 8 night from three-point range, and making all 10 of his free-throw attempts.

"I'm honored to be selected, but I feel that individual awards are a reflection of team success," Taylor said in a statement. "None of us would be recognized if it weren't for the guys around us and the coaches around us that put us in a position to be successful. It's a special thing after all the hard work we put in during the offseason and it's nice to know that it pays off. Coach Ryan always says that if you work hard, the basketball Gods will pay you back."

UW has now had nine first-team all-conference players in Bo Ryan's 10 seasons as head coach. Leuer and Taylor are Wisconsin's first selections to the first team since Brian Butch was a consensus selection in 2008. They are also the first duo to be placed on the same first-team All-Big Ten list in the same season. Michael Finley (coaches) and Rashard Griffith (media) both earned first-team honors on separate lists in 1995.

A year after being named to the conference's second team, Purdue senior JaJuan Johnson was named the conference's player of the year after averaging a conference best 20.5 points per game, 2.4 blocks per game and 20 20-point games this year.

While the honor is deserving, freshman Josh Gasser makes the case that if you remove Johnson from the Boilermakers, Purdue would still have E'Twuan Moore, another first-team selection. Remove Taylor and UW would be hurting at the point guard position.

"That's the thing that separated him from everybody else," Gasser said. "He's definitely the most important player in the conference. Take Johnson away from Purdue, that's also a big loss, but they still have Moore. Take Jared Sullinger away from Ohio State, he's a good piece, but I don't think he makes him go like Jordan does for us."

Although individual awards aren't high on Ryan's list, the head coach suggested that Taylor being on the all-defensive team was the more rewarding accolade.

"He's guarded some people and done a very good job - not so much on number of steals because we're not an in the passing lane, run and jump type team - but he's always been so solid handling screens and handling the guy he's assigned to," Ryan said. "Then, even if he gets into a switch situation, how he's ended up blocking out some pretty big guys and doing a great job on that.

"Placing Jordan on the All-Defensive Team shows that people recognize his impact. They notice how hard he plays, that he's a scrappy player who is all over the place, taking charges, diving for loose balls. This recognizes his commitment to playing defense and working hard."

For the second straight year, Purdue's Matt Painter was honored as the Big Ten Coach of the Year after guiding the Boilermakers to a 25-6 overall record and a 14-4 mark in conference play. Ohio State's Aaron Craft was selected as the Sixth Man of the Year by the coaches and Sullinger was named the freshman of the year.

Sullinger, a first-team selection by both the media and coaches, finished the year with 17.1 points per game in conference outings, good for first on the team.

In addition to Leuer and Taylor, senior Keaton Nankivil was a honorable mention selection while Gasser was snubbed by the media from the All-Freshman team.

All-Big Ten Teams (pdf)

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