Late on Thursday night, Tyshawn Taylor kept looking at the television. He was sitting inside Room 84, a restaurant in Hoboken, N.J., just a few miles from the NBA Draft at the Prudential Center in Newark.
The names kept flashing on the television. And none of those names were his.
“I was sitting on a step inside this restaurant,” Taylor said, “shaking my head at the pick before me and was a little bit upset. I was hearing different things.”
Finally, as the clock passed 11 p.m. on the East Coast, Taylor’s name appeared.
The Portland Trail Blazers had selected Taylor in the second round with the No. 41 overall pick, and they would be trading him to the Brooklyn Nets.
Taylor, as it wound up, would be staying close to home.
“It’s weird,” Taylor said, “because I told myself at the beginning of the draft that I probably would get drafted by a team I didn’t work out for. And that’s exactly the case with Brooklyn.”
Just nearly 10 miles from his childhood neighborhood in Hoboken, N.J., Taylor will now try to make good on an NBA Draft dream after a sometimes unstable four-year career at Kansas.
“(It’s just) right over one of those bridges over there,” Taylor said on Thursday, thinking about the distance from Hoboken to Brooklyn.
As a second-round pick for a franchise playing its first season in its new home, Taylor will have to prove himself worthy of a roster spot if he wants to earn a contract.
But after what he went through at Kansas, he’ll certainly be battle-tested. He enters the NBA after averaging 16.6 points and 4.8 assists in 33.4 minutes per game during his senior season at Kansas. It was a season that started with some turnover-plagued performances but finished with Taylor solidifying himself as one of the best guards in the country as KU won its eighth straight Big 12 title and advanced to the NCAA title game.
“He’s not scared of work,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “And his athletic ability and his talent will win out over time. Because all he’s got to do is just be who he is.”
On Thursday, Taylor said he still hadn’t met Jay-Z, the New York-based rapper who serves as a high-profile minority owner for the Nets. But that may change soon.
“I haven’t,” Taylor said, “but I’m looking forward to it.”
For now, he’s just looking to the future. After four years at Kansas, he’s returning home to continue his basketball journey.
“Being a four-year player at a University like Kansas,” Taylor said, “I think just gives me a step up on the competition. I think I come into the league ready — ready to play right now.”