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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

Ex-Clay player still feels pull of competitive ball


Zac Taylor still has the itch to play.

The former Clay basketball standout is sitting out the season as medical noncounter for the University of Toledo, working as a student assistant while resting his body after knee and back injuries derailed his playing career.

Taylor is still under scholarship with the Rockets, but with his body feeling much better these days, he is considering transferring to another school with the hopes of finishing what he started on the hardwood.

"I'd like to think I'm not done yet," Taylor said. "I can't complain. Having your school paid for isn't too bad, but there's nothing like playing college basketball. It's still fun [being a student assistant], but it's not as fun as being a player."

In a perfect world, Taylor said, he would like to play again for UT, but with no available roster spots next season, he will have to look elsewhere to resume his playing career.

"The way the medical hardship waiver works is, UT honors my scholarship for four years, with the understanding that my body pretty much gave up on me," Taylor said. "But at any point I'm able to come back and I don't lose eligibility. It's just a matter of if Toledo has open scholarships for me, and as of right now, we don't. So it looks like I'll probably have to go Division II. But who knows right now?"

Taylor said he'd like to make a final decision on his future by the end of the spring semester.

"My body gets better every day, so who knows, maybe in the next year I can get back out on the court somewhere," Taylor said.

Taylor averaged 18.4 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots per game in his senior year with the Eagles, despite missing part of the season after recovering from tearing a knee ligament in the summer of 2007.

Another injury flared up in the same knee a year later during training before the start of his freshman season with the Rockets, and he suffered a slipped disc at the end of last season.

The injuries coupled with Taylor's limited production because of that led UT to apply for a medical hardship waiver for him last summer, freeing another roster spot for the Rockets and at the same time ending Taylor's career.

Nevertheless, that hasn't snuffed out the fire inside Taylor to play competitively again. Because of NCAA rules, Taylor is not allowed to practice with the Rockets, so he keeps his skills sharp by playing in pickup games at the student rec center.

"I always wanted to play at Toledo," said Taylor, who is majoring in secondary education and hopes to coach and teach in the area someday. "It was fun when I had the chance to play. There's nothing like it, and that's probably why I'm still itching to play."

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com.

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