Atiba Taylor: The Journey of A Kid from Hackensack Leads Him To Youngstown State

Photo courtesy of Johnnie Photography.

By David Cordova

Everywhere you go, there’s always players that are more revered than others. But then again, there’s always a chance that the ones that are counted out or underrated have a chance to shine bright in their own right.

That can be said for Atiba Taylor, a player that was underrated throughout most of his high school career. The 6-foot-4 senior guard out of Hackensack High School is a player that can score in bunches and is always bound for a great performance every time he steps out on the court.

“What motivates me is my family, everybody pushing me to work hard, and myself, I just love the game of basketball, that’s what motivates me.” says Taylor on what makes him successful on the court.

When asked about what it’s like being from New Jersey, he replied, “I think being from Jersey is, we just got like a whole different swag than, I think, everybody else. I think, the way we play, the way we just carry ourselves, we’re just different in Jersey.”

From his younger days to the present, he was part of a quintet of talented hoopers from the Garden State, which included Louis King (Oregon commit/Hudson Catholic), Luther Muhammad (Ohio State commit/Hudson Catholic), Nazreon “Nazi” Reid (LSU commit/Roselle Catholic) and Jahvon Quinerly (Villanova commit)/Hudson Catholic). For many years, they all played together on the Team IZOD/Sports U AAU program.

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When asked about the brotherly bond he shares with other four players, Taylor replied, “I think my brotherhood with them, well, I don’t think. Like, those are my brothers, we’ve played together since fifth grade, we’ve been to two national championships together, we won two UAA championships together, so we’ve been through a lot. In and out of hotels, flying across the country, that’s like family to me.”

Taylor spent his high school days at Hackensack where he was a mainstay for the Comets, year after year. As a junior, he averaged 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. This past season, he averaged 17 points, 7.3 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game, as he led Hackensack to a 23-7 record and an appearance in the Group IV sectionals. In his four years of high school ball, Taylor scored 1,416 points.

Taylor said this of his high school career, “I been at Hackensack all four years. This year, we won the state sectionals, again, for my second time. I won it my sophomore year. I love Hackensack High School, that’s where I grew up, that’s where I spent all four years of my high school career. That’s home to me.”

Back in November, Taylor signed a letter of intent to play at Youngstown State University, in which he will be playing for Jerrod Calhoun, whose squad went 8-24 last season. However, the addition of Taylor will likely help things turn around for the Penguins.

When asked why he chose to attend Youngstown State, which plays in the Horizon League, he replied, “What I’ll bring to Youngstown State is a winning mentality. I’m not a loser, I don’t consider myself a loser, I work hard in everything I do, off & on the court. I’ll just bring a positive attitude, a different atmosphere, because they haven’t been really good these past couple of years, but I think, me coming in there this fall, will change that.”

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As for the strengths and weaknesses in his game, Taylor replied, “I feel my strengths are, getting to the basket, getting my teammates involved, I play very good defense. People don’t see that, but I’ll guard the very best player, and he probably won’t score more than 10 points.”

Taylor will graduate from Hackensack on June 25th and will be headed to Youngstown State to take part in summer classes in July. But now that he will be headed off to college, here’s how he would like to be remembered in the Garden State, “I just want to go down as one of the greatest to come out of my hometown’s high school. I’m the second [all-time] leading scorer who went to Hackensack High School, so I just want to keep building on that legacy and just tell people to keep following me throughout my process.”

Next year, things will change for Taylor as he heads off to college, but chances are many will see the same hunger and spirit that many saw with the Comets. And he will also use that same spirit to help his squad to do great things in the Horizon League. All one has to do is keep watching, because he is a player that can still make a special mark wherever he goes.

Highlights of Atiba Taylor:

Courtesy of HNTV Magazine.

Courtesy of HNTV Magazine.

Courtesy of Hoop Nation TV.

Courtesy of NJ Hoop Recruit.

Courtesy of HNTV Magazine.

Courtesy of HNTV Magazine.

Courtesy of Jersey Sports Zone.

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