Star athletes up north do not typically receive as much recognition and publicity as the kids down in southern New Hampshire do. And while that is too bad, fortunately the college coaches didn't miss the boat on Colleen Taylor from Lebanon High. Taylor recently committed to play basketball at St. Joseph's College in Standish, Maine.
"There is a long history between St. Joe's and Lebanon" said Lebanon girls basketball coach Tim Kehoe. "Meghan Daigle, a former 1,000 point scorer at Lebanon, played for St. Joe's and is now their assistant coach. Casey Drake, the point guard on our 2007 championship team, was a starting point guard at St. Joe's."
Taylor and her Lebanon teammates are currently preparing to host #7 seed Portsmouth in the Division II quarterfinals on Friday night after defeating Kingswood 62-19 in the preliminary round. They 're trying to get back to the D-II title game, where they have suffered heartbreaking losses each of the last 2 years. Meanwhile the St. Joseph's women's team has also been making quite a run in their tournament, but last week they fell in the GNAC championship game to top seeded Emmanuel College 68-57.
"Coach McDevitt is an outstanding coach and runs a similar style that we do at Lebanon" said Coach Kehoe. "Colleen should do very well in their system as a two or three. St. Joe's is graduating their best three-point shooter and Colleen has an excellent opportunity to step into that role."
Taylor was a member of the NE Shooting Stars 15U team which won the Division II AAU National Championship in 2010. She played alongside players like Jane White (Souhegan), Ashley Clough (Keene) and Rebecca Arnone (Campbell). Then last year as a junior for Lebanon she was an all-state selection. One her her breakout games last year came in the regular season vs. Souhegan. With Trina Scheie out with an injury Taylor stepped up big with 18 points including some clutch three-pointers.
This season with Scheie having to sit out the entire season with a torn ACL Taylor has once again had to step up her game and she has done just that. Earlier this season vs. a good Windham team she was simply on fire shooting the basketball, scoring a game-high 23 points (18 came in the 1st half). At 5'9" she is able to see over the top of a press, shoot over the top of a zone and also mix it up inside and on the boards in addition to her outside game.
"Colleen's one of those kids that lives in my office" said Kehoe. "I have always joked that we spend way too much time together and we need a break, but I must admit that she will be missed next year. Colleen committed herself to basketball at an early age. She has always been a great shooter but over the years she has worked hard to be a great defender and rebounder as well. We are excited for her future and wish her the best."
Here's an exclusive interview with Colleen Taylor.
Jeremy Leveille: Talk about your recruitment and what led you to choose St. Joseph's.
Colleen Taylor: Some other schools that I was considering were Franklin Pierce and SNHU. I chose St. Joe's over those schools because of the connection I had with the team when I went for my overnight visit in early November. I also had a very good connection with Coach McDevitt, whose style of coaching very much reminded me of Coach Kehoe's. He has been very successful there, and for him to be at St. Joe's for 19 years really shows how dedicated he is to his program. Coach McDevitt is very knowledgeable about the game and is always reminding his players of the teamwork it takes to win championships. Also, I loved how I could still play basketball and have it be a big part of my life, but still enjoy college and not let basketball be my only life.
JL: What do you see your role being on the team at St. Joe's?
CT: When Coach McDevitt and I have talked about what my role will be on the team is, it's about the same as it is at Lebanon. I will remain a primary shooting guard for the Monks. Coach's primary shooter now is his daughter Meghan McDevitt, but she is graduating this year and it is my goal coming into the season next year to hopefully earn that spot.
JL: Talk about how playing for the Shooting Stars AAU team and Lebanon High School team (2 teams which have won A LOT of games) has helped you become a better player.
CT: Playing on those very dominate and both very successful teams have made me the player I am today. I have been honored to play with the best on both squads. My teammates and coaches are the ones who have made my game that much better. Being on both of those teams have made me a stronger player physically and mentally, but without the help of my teammates I would not be where I am today - playing in the post-season looking for a third consecutive trip to the finals.
JL: Talk about how Coach Kehoe has helped you develop as a player over the years.
CT: Coach Kehoe has impacted my life tremendously. He has taught me how to be a great shooter and how to believe in myself as a player. He has challenged me and pushed me for the last 8 years as my AAU coach and high school coach only because he knows how good I can be. When I stopped believing in myself, he was always there believing in me. He said to me, "that if I miss 3 shots in a row, he still wants me to take that fourth shot because he knows that it is going in", even when I didn't.
JL: The core group of players you have played with at Lebanon have won a lot of games over the years, both in AAU and in high school. Talk about what it's been like growing up playing with this group of girls.
CT: My teammates are the reason I'm the player I am today. Just like with Coach Kehoe, when I didn't believe in myself I knew my teammates had my back and they never stopped believing in me. This year especially I have tried to become a better player and captain for my teammates because I know they deserve it. Every one of my teammates have helped me improve, whether it was Trina and Heather teaching me post moves or Moriah teaching me her classic spin move or Taylor Friedman teaching me to be calm under pressure or Emily Kehoe teaching me to always give 100% on defense. Every lesson I have learned from my teammates through out the years are lessons I will take with me to college and I couldn't be more grateful to have played with them for basically my entire basketball career from Titans AAU in 4th grade all the way up to high school.
JL: Where do you plan on focusing your studies in college?
CT: I plan on studying Sports Management at St. Joe's
Congratulations to Colleen, and best of luck at St. Joseph's!