HARKER HEIGHTS — As far as Celneque Bobbitt is concerned, Louisiana-Monroe got itself a bargain-basement set of alloy rims with all the potential of a chrome finish.
“They got some alloy rims but they want some chrome rims, so they take the alloy because it looks good and then they get ’em dipped in chrome,” Bobbitt said.
Roderick Taylor, Harker Heights’ 6-foot-8 senior center with a 6-10 wingspan, committed to play college basketball at Louisiana-Monroe late Monday afternoon, sending a text to excited Warhawk coaches before making it official with a tweet.
“I would like to announce that I’m committing to the university of Louisiana Monroe @ULMWarhawks,” he tweeted.
Less than 24 hours after making a gut decision on his future, Taylor was back at work in the Heights weight room, preparing to prove that he deserved the status as a Division I recruit.
“I just want to go out there and prove them wrong, prove everybody else wrong that had doubts (about me),” Taylor said. “It just makes me want to go out there, show I belong really, show I belong in the starting lineup. I feel like I have something to prove.”
A physical gem at a muscular 6-foot-8, Taylor is expected to play an integral part this coming season with four of the five varsity starters returning for Harker Heights.
“All his attributes are there — he’s eye-candy ... that’s the candy-apple red eye-candy that really entices you,” Bobbitt joked, calling Taylor this season’s “X-factor.” “That is the key, you know ... but the main deal is him stepping up.”
Taylor, who said going to a Division I program “was the most important thing to me,” had drawn interest from several programs from top-tier conferences, including Southeastern Conference teams Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee, as well as Big 12 programs Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and TCU, among others.
But that interest faded last month, prompting the diamond-in-the-rough prospect to reconsider his college destination.
“Some of the bigger schools that were looking at me stopped calling in July, so I just had a couple of mid-majors,” Taylor said. “Not necessarily like big D-1 or the Power 6 conference schools — they just stopped calling — I figured I wasn’t on their recruitment (board) anymore. So I just stuck with the schools that were showing the most interest.”
That led to a re-examination of ULM and fellow mid-majors such as Arkansas-Little Rock, New Hampshire, Portland State and UT-Arlington.
Taylor, ranked the 57th best player in the state according to texashoops.com, a Rivals.com website, was discussing his options with friends and family Monday afternoon while doing a little research on his phone when he pulled the trigger on ULM.
“I just felt like it was the best fit for me, so I decided to commit, to get it done and over with before the season or school started,” Taylor said.
Despite the somewhat impromptu nature of his decision, Taylor said he was “100 percent” committed to ULM with plans to make an official visit in September and to sign during the early signing period in November.
“I kind of wanted to catch them by surprise because I know they were wondering if I was going to come down (and visit) or not, so I sent them a text ... and I guess I did catch them by surprise because they were pretty excited about it,” he added.
“They asked if I was sure and I told them I was. So I’m (hoping) to go down there and make it happen.”
Contact Alex Byington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7566