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February 19, 2009

Taylor discusses McDonald's selection

Dara Taylor kept her secret for two weeks.

The Maryland point guard recruit received a letter earlier this month notifying her that she was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game. But she was instructed to keep the news quiet until yesterday’s announcement.

Kevin Lynch, Taylor’s AAU coach with the Philadelphia Belles, knew of her selection, as did her high school coach at Caravel (Del.) Academy, Kristin Caldwell. The Taylor family and some Caravel teammates were also informed. Terps coach Brenda Frese somehow managed to find out.

But last night at around 6 p.m., Taylor’s secret was out to everyone else. The 5-foot-7, 135-pounder will suit up for the East team at the McDonald’s game on April 1 in Miami.

“It’s a great honor,” Taylor said. “There [are] only 12 girls on each team. That’s only 24 girls out of all the seniors in the country. To be chosen out of all of them this year is a great honor.”

Taylor, who committed to UM in December 2007, said the selection was an unbelievable reward for years of hard work.

“I mean I put it all on staying focused and working hard,” Taylor said. “Coach B, she had a lot of confidence in me. She recruited me when I wasn’t ranked by any of the [recruiting] services. But everything just followed after that. So it’s good to look back and see where I’ve come from to see where I progressed and how I’ve gotten better.”

Taylor’s been a part of the Belles AAU program since she was 10 years old. Lynch has known her since then. He was always impressed with her potential and skill level. But according to Lynch, Taylor has taken her game to another level since committing to the Terps more than a year ago.

“I really think from the time when she was 14 years old, she was a really good player,” Lynch said. “But her last two years, she’s just really turned it on. A lot of it was through her hard work and perseverance, and believing in what she was doing. She’s one of the fastest kids in the country with the basketball. She’s a blur with the basketball. She’s always had that, and now she can do it under control. She has that great athletic ability. She’s really grown as a player in the last two years.”

Lynch was one of the 24 voters for the McDonald’s women’s game. He obviously cast a vote for his long-time point guard, but noted that he couldn’t sway the other 23 voters on his own. They were convinced of Taylor’s McDonald’s worthiness by her summer AAU play with the Belles.

“She [earned her McDonald’s invite] on the summer circuit. She just did a great job,” Lynch said. “... We played all the top teams in the country, all the top players in the country, and she went out there and was just fantastic. We played a team from Dallas-Fort Worth that was undefeated coming into the Nike nationals. People were proclaiming them the No. 1 team ever put together. And we beat them at Nike nationals and Dara was a big reason why we did. She’s the kind of kid that can handle that pressure.”

Taylor’s averaging approximately 17 points, six assists and five steals per game for Caravel. She has two regular season games remaining followed by the state playoffs. After the conclusion of her senior season, Taylor will get a short break before she makes the trip down to Miami.

“I know I can’t play AAU this summer ... but now I can go to Miami and play in the McDonald’s game,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of a nice way to transition from high school to college.”

Taylor said she won’t be shy in advertising the end destination of that high school to college transition.

“I’m definitely going to take as much of my Maryland gear as I can and sport as much of it as possible.”

Posted by Matt Bracken at 11:19 AM | | Comments (1)


Go Dara !!!

from Shayla's grandmom

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About Matt Bracken

Matt Bracken was a lightly recruited football and tennis prospect out of East Lansing (Mich.) High School in 2001, but spurned all (nonexistent) scholarship offers to attend the University of Michigan. Matt graduated from UM in 2005, earned a master's degree in new media journalism from Northwestern University in 2006, and spent the first 11 months of his career as an online producer / videographer / blogger at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. He has worked at The Baltimore Sun since July 2007, where he currently serves as the deputy sports editor for digital.

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