HUNTINGTON — When the Marshall University men's basketball team plays a CollegeInsider.com Tournament game Tuesday night, Andrew Taylor will sit in the front row behind the home team bench just watching the Thundering Herd.
On other days, he's in the middle of the action at Marshall practices in Cam Henderson Center. Marshall will play either Robert Morris University or Presbyterian College in the CIT quarterfinals and Taylor isn't eligible as a Furman University transfer sitting out the season. He practices with the Herd, but can't appear in games.
"It's actually been a blessing," he said. "I'm really taking this year just to sit back and watch guys like Jon (Elmore) and C.J. (Burks). Watch them and see how they react to the system. I think the system is awesome. I think it has a lot of benefits to a basketball player."
Taylor is the heir apparent to Elmore as the Marshall point guard. He enrolled in January and for now has to sit out through the fall semester, but there is a chance he could regain the lost eligibility through an NCAA appeal.
"We're really confident I won't have to sit out at all (next season)," he said.
He's 6-foot-3, weighs 200 pounds and is a point guard with all the skills.
Head coach Dan D'Antoni said he's smart, has a good sense of the game, has good speed control and has the creative passing touch of Elmore, a senior who holds Marshall and Conference all-time points (2,577) and assists (772) records.
"Andrew is a strong kid," D'Antoni said. "He's a little more athletic than you think he is. He shoots the ball real well, handles and is a solid defender.
"He's a good player, so we'll see how good he is. Until he shows it (in games), it's all for naught, but he's got all the tools."
Taylor is from Corbin, Kentucky, in the southeastern part of the state, where he played for five varsity seasons at Corbin High School. He was a starting guard for the Redhounds as an eighth-grader and finished high school with about 3,600 points - which would rank in the top three of state history, but he's not listed on the KHSAA.org website.
He recently received a form to fill out and return to be listed in Kentucky's all-time records.
As a senior in the Class of 2018 playing for a Sweet 16 state tournament team, he averaged 28 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while hitting 53 percent of his field goals, 34.1 percent on 3-point shots and 75.1 percent at the free throw line.
"I was blessed with a lot of opportunities," he said.
The recruiting website www.verbalcommits.com reported Taylor had several NCAA Division I scholarship offers that included Furman, Davidson, Belmont, Wofford, Wright State and Toledo.
Taylor signed with the Furman Paladins of the Southern Conference in November 2017. He attended 2018 summer school in Greenville, South Carolina, and was enrolled for the fall semester for a few weeks before leaving.
"It was just an uncomfortable situation," Taylor said. "It just wasn't the best place for me. I'm here now and I love it."
Marshall was only about three hours from home and Taylor said he had spoken with Herd assistant coach Cornelius Jackson before committing to Furman, so the connection was there. It turned out Marshall needed a point guard for next season.
Taylor said he was in sixth grade the last time he sat out a season, so what he's going through now is difficult. He said all things happen for a reason, and he's using this season to get stronger and faster and work on his shooting.
"I'm getting to guard these guards every day," he said. "I'm learning how to operate a pick-and-roll like they do and certain things like that. It's going to be big shoes to fill (after Elmore leaves), but with the way we've been working I think I can do it."
His father, David Taylor, was a basketball player who had some looks from colleges, he said. His mother is Kelda Taylor.
CollegeInsider.com Tournament: Marshall (20-14) vs. TBD
7 p.m. Tuesday, Cam Henderson Center, Huntington
Radio: WDGG 93.7-FM, ESPN 94.1-FM and 930-AM,WMUL 88.1-FM