Taylor making seamless transition from Simeon to Marquette

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Taylor making seamless transition from Simeon to Marquette

Steve Taylor is hoping to become both the latest success story to come out of Simeon's basketball program, and the newest 'switchable' to succeed under Buzz Williams at Marquette.
The 6-foot-7 forward was the top-ranked Illinois recruit in the 2012 class, and was pegged by most outlets as a top-70 recruit nationally. He signed with Marquette last November and arrived on campus this summer, ready to make an impact as an inside-out threat.
And though 2012-2013 will mark Taylor's first season with a Division-I program, but he has plenty of experience with a winning program after his time spent at Simeon Career Academy, where he won three straight state championships.
Playing under head coach Robert Smith, who said he runs his practices as close to a collegiate level as possible, Taylor said he came to Milwaukee prepared for what awaited him under Buzz Williams and Marquette.
"We worked hard at Simeon, so when I got here to Marquette it was second nature," Taylor said. "You have to work hard to get what you want. Once I got here, I realized high school practices were nothing like this."
Taylor, along with the top-ranked 2013 recruit Jabari Parker, helped lead Simeon to three straight state championships. Taylor, who called himself the leader of that team, averaged 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks per game his senior season, capping a 33-1 record.
Marquette fans got their first glimpse of Taylor at Marquette Madness, held on the school's campus to unofficially open the season Friday night.
Taylor played all 24 minutes of the scrimmage in front of Parker, who took the drive to Milwaukee to watch his former teammate while wearing Taylor's No. 15 Simeon jersey.
Taylor finished with four points and four rebounds. It wasn't a dominating performance, but the 6-foot-7 Taylor more than held his own in the paint against established post scorers, notably junior Jamil Wilson and senior Chris Otule.
But one big difference Taylor is still adjusting to is the speed and size of the game.
No longer is Taylor the tallest player on the court, giving way to the 6-foot-11 Otule and 6-foot-8 Davante Gardner. Even the 6-foot-7 Wilson, who Taylor called one of his biggest mentors during the summer, poses a threat in practice that he is still getting used to.
"I need to get tougher. I know I've improved there a lot, and I've gotten stronger," Taylor said. "But I need to be able to finish around the rim a little bit more."
Part of his improved frame involved adding 15 pounds to his frame since arriving on campus in June. Now up to 234 pounds, Taylor feels confident he can compete for immediate minutes in a Marquette rotation that lost senior Jae Crowder to the NBA Draft.
Crowder, last year's Big East Player of the Year, averaged 17.5 points and 8.4 rebounds while playing as an undersized power forward position.
Marquette will have size with the aforementioned bigs, but Taylor said he wants to be part of that rotation.
To do so, he has been in the video room watching film on former Marquette players referred to by Williams as switchables -- forwards with inside-out games who can guard multiple positions on the floor.
That includes Crowder, but also current Chicago Bulls wing Jimmy Butler, who played forward for Williams from 2008 to 2011. Much like Butler, Taylor sees himself as more of an inside player at this point with an improving jump shot.
"I watch film all the time," Taylor said, "and whenever I watch I picture myself doing the same things. I feel more comfortable in the paint because I can score there."
Taylor's comfort level also increased when he came to campus in June because of a new NCAA rule that allowed head coaches to practice with their teams eight hours per week during the summer.
"It's not a lot, but it does give you an opportunity to be around them every day," Williams said. "I think it allows them to stay in some sort of routine, academically and athletically, and I think it put us on a better slope once the school year started."
Taylor is a proven winner, one of the reasons Williams wanted him, and now he's making a seamless transition to the college game. His versatility will be a key asset in Marquette's up-tempo offense, and he understands that if he follows his coach's lead that same success from Chicago will follow him to Milwaukee.
"The way Buzz explained it, I'm just a player. So whatever it is he needs me to do that's what I'm gonna do. So I don't have a set position," Taylor said." And if I do what Buzz says I'll get out there."
And based on Williams' track record with players like Taylor, the Simeon graduate will see success once he's out there, too.

Preview: Charlotte Knights battle Buffalo Bisons Saturday on CSN+

Preview: Charlotte Knights battle Buffalo Bisons Saturday on CSN+

CSN's coverage of the Charlotte Knights continues on Saturday night as the Knights will host the Buffalo Bisons at 6 p.m. on CSN+.

Reynaldo Lopez, MLB's No. 45 overall prospect, makes his 10th start of the season for the Knights. The 23-year-old Lopez has a 5-1 record with a 2.94 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 49 innings in 2017.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

White Sox No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada, who landed on the 7-day DL on May 18, is eligible to make his return to the Knights lineup this weekend.

It's the fourth of eight games that CSN will televise over the next two months to give fans an opportunity to watch the future of the White Sox.

Check out the rest of the television schedule here.

Northwestern kick returner Solomon Vault expected to miss entire 2017 season

Northwestern kick returner Solomon Vault expected to miss entire 2017 season

Northwestern is expected to be without kick returner and wide receiver Solomon Vault for the entirety of the upcoming 2017 season, according to a Friday report from Inside NU.

A Northwestern spokesman told the site that Vault underwent surgery for a lower-body injury and is expected to redshirt this fall.

Vault took back four kickoffs for touchdowns in his first three seasons, racking up 1,505 kick-return yards. Last season, he returned 23 kicks for 560 yards and a touchdown.

In addition to his value as a kick returner, though, Vault was also expected to play a larger role in the passing game this season. He transitioned from running back to wide receiver ahead of last season and caught 15 passes for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2016.

While the Wildcats have plenty of other options at wide receiver, it's a significant wrinkle in their challenge to replace the production of Austin Carr, last year's Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year, who is on to a pro career in the NFL.

If Vault does redshirt this season, it means he will have one year of NCAA eligibility remaining.