Mario Taybron just might be the point guard John Chaney has been looking for.
Without an experienced floor leader, Temple struggled out of the gate last season. Maurice Collins, who never played the position in high school, eventually grew into the role as a freshman, but Chaney would love to move Collins off the ball.
Taybron just might be the guy to make it happen.
A native of Hampton, Va., Taybron averaged 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Norfolk’s Ryan Academy this past season.
Taybron, who signed with Temple during the fall signing period, began his high school career at Hampton High School before transfering to Ryan, where he was considered to be one of the better fifth-year seniors in the country.
Taybron, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound combo guard who primarily played the point at Ryan, should serve as a fine compliment to Collins.
The starting point guard job will still be Collins’ to lose, but Temple probably wouldn’t mind seeing Taybron assume the role at some point next season.
Temple assistant coach Dan Leibovitz, who was primarily responsible for recruiting Taybron, believes the Virginia prep star could make an immediate contribution.
“He’s very strong, athletic, and he shoots and handles the ball very well,” Leibovitz said.
“I think he is good enough to contribute as early as next year.”
Before choosing Temple, Taybron was also recruited by National Invitation Tournament champion St. John’s, Elite Eight team Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Clemson.
The chance to play for a Hall of Fame coach weighed heavily into Taybron’s decision.
“I think it will be a good experience for me because he’s the kind of coach that will push his kids to be successful in life and that won’t get in trouble,” Taybron said.
Taybron said he has met the necessary academic requirements to be eligible to play next year as a freshman.
Temple hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since the 2001 season, but expectations are always high on North Broad Street.
Taybron doesn’t feel any pressure in competing for the point guard job, one that Chaney covets.
He demands a great deal from the player who runs his offense.
“It’s really not difficult for me because [point guard] is what I grew up playing,” Taybron said.
“I just recently moved to the two guard spot for the past two years.”
Leibovitz thinks Taybron’s game will flourish under Chaney’s system.
“He has good poise, he makes good decisions with the ball, and keeps control over the game,” Leibovitz said.
“It is hard to know how someone will play at this level as opposed to high school, He might develop into a scorer or a passer, but he will probably play well with Maurice in the backcourt.”
Although Taybron’s numbers suggest that he can play anywhere in the backcourt, listening to him talk about his game lends some insight into what to expect from him next season.
“Hopefully I just bring intensity up and down the court,” Taybron said.
“I can shoot a little bit, but passing, that’s what I really do, so I just look for people to get open so I can distribute.”
With fall quickly approaching, Taybron seems enthusiastic about coming to Philadelphia and playing for Chaney.
He is expected to enroll at Temple this summer to begin his coursework.
“I’m very excited to come to Temple,” Taybron said.
“I just liked how everybody was just a family when I went out there, and everybody just got along. I want to be a part of that.”
David Cargin can be reached at I3AKDRAF@hotmail.com.