DUNCANVILLE, Texas — When Clarence Taylor, Jr. walked into the gymnasium at Duncanville High a few weeks ago, he knew immediately things would be a lot differently than what he had witnessed in recent years.
For starters, Taylor — widely known as “CJ” — had emerged as a marquee player for an Odessa Permian High basketball team that finished at the .500 mark (12-12) last year, having registered 15 points per game after making his varsity debut just six games into the season.
Consider the fact that Taylor, a 6-foot-1, slim, 150-pound swingman, was only a freshman a year ago, yet enjoyed instant success and as a varsity newcomer, and it’s no wonder his former coach, Danny Wright, doesn’t shy away from the notion that Taylor is making a strong case that he could be something really special by the time his prep career culminates.
“The boys basketball program was fortunate enough to have a young player in Clarence Taylor, Jr.,” Wright told Sports Journalist Andre Johnson. “He has definition to his body. As a new kid, I was excited to have him. You see, I’ve watched this young man play growing up in Midland (Texas).”
To his credit, Midland is where Taylor’s basketball prowess was discovered. As the featured player for Midland’s Goddard Jr. High, he was seemed arguably a man amongst boys, averaging better than 30 points per game. In addition, he walked away with the American Legion Award as the area’s top scholar athlete for posting the highest grade point average.
In other words, with so much high school basketball ahead of him, it’s safe to assume that Taylor’s reputation is such that he has the tools and wherewithal to be effective on and off the court.
Which, of course, begs the question: Does this lanky, talented kid who has the ability to become a game changer at any given moment boasts the poise and assertiveness to perform on the larger stage that is Duncanville?
Don’t be surprise by his forthright answer.
“It’s a different atmosphere…more speed,” Taylor said. “But I think I can play with anybody in the nation.”
Suddenly, without hesitation, Taylor, flashing a slight grin, offered a dauntless prediction.
“I’m going to get the numbers,” he said with a straight face. “The stats prove I can get the numbers.”
Asked if his predictions are a sense of cockiness or pure confidence, Taylor wasting little time saying,” I think it’s just confidence in myself. I’ve got to have a chip on my shoulder every time I go out.”
Among those who don’t have an issue with Taylor adopting the proverbial “Me against the world” persona is his father, Clarence Taylor, Sr. CJ’s father, a native Mississippian who, along with his wife, Capacine, has strong ties to the Memphis metropolitan area, having coached his son for years when he played AAU ball for the Memphis Red Hawks.
While CJ has yet to be installed on the varsity roster at Duncanville, Taylor, Sr. has been instrumental in helping position his son to put forth a valiant effort, whether in JV or varsity competition.
So far, he likes what he’s seen in a kid who’s armed with so much promise, a youngster who doesn’t dismiss the notion that he’s destined to make his presence felt at mighty Duncanville just as he did at Permian.
“He dedicated on getting better…ever since he was a little kid,” Taylor, Sr. said of CJ. “I’ve trained him to get better. I’ve trained him on ball handling, shooting, and defense.”
Fortunately for CJ, his intense training under the direction of his father proved beneficial, particularly when he was installed in the varsity rotation at Permian.
“CJ is one of those kids who does the little things such as taking a charge, being very active on defense, always around the ball on defense, trapped without fouling, celebrating others for his team’s success, never misses free throws,” Wright said. “You see, that type of maturity doesn’t normally present itself through a freshman.”
All of which is why CJ brings to Duncanville a wealth of confidence for a 15-year-old sophomore.
His track record is such that he could very well become one of the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s most feared players sooner than we think.
Never mind that he has yet to be named a varsity player.
“You don’t always get what you want when you want it, but you have to persevere,” Capacine Taylor said. “Just because you’re where you’re supposed to be isn’t a bad thing. It could be a good thing.”
Even at mighty Duncanville.
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Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. A 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division from Dallas, Texas. To reach Johnson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.