The Wheeler High School basketball program is one of the most storied programs in the South for the last 15 years. A number of players have gone on to the college and professional ranks since their days at the Marietta, Ga., school.
Current sophomore point guard Phil Taylor has seen all of the school's famous alum along the way, too. Now he's hoping to be counted amongst those that have moved on to the next level.
When Wheeler won it's first of four state championships in the last 12 years when Shareef Abur-Rahim helped the Wildcats cut down the nets, Taylor was in the championship photos.
"He was a little baby," says Wheeler head coach Doug Lipscomb, "but he was in those pictures."
Taylor is hoping he can pilot a team to a title this season as a sophomore. The team has the personnel to go deep into the post-season.
Taylor was outstanding in his team's season opener on Saturday night against state ranked McEachern, a program featuring at least four Division I players itself. Taylor scored a game high 24 points (7-9 FG, 5-6 from 3, 5-7 FT) and hit five big three-pointers in the victory. He also checked in with five rebounds and five assists in the win.
"Everybody was doubting us, saying we were going to have too many stars but we got it done and worked together as a team," Taylor said. "We still have a lot to work on still, too. We have to do the little things like making the extra pass, getting back on defense and the little things are going to make us better in the long run."
Even though he's just a sophomore, Taylor doesn't make many mistakes on the floor and glues a team that starts five Division I players together nicely.
"You want all of your kids to be able to handle adversity and he's been around us a long time so he knows," Lipscomb said.
"When I play I don't think that I'm a sophomore. We are all equal. I just have to go out there and do what I do best," Taylor said.
That mentality shines through too when it comes to his size on the court.
Erving Walker, Andre Young and Tajuan Porter have all bucked the system. The pint sized point guards have shed the belief that size matters at the high-major level. Don't be surprised if Taylor is next in that group.
Florida State, Michigan State, NC State, Georgia, Clemson, Auburn, NC State and "most of the ACC except for Duke and North Carolina" are seriously interested, he said.
He says he is interested in who else will recruit him but for now, it's all about the next game.
"We have to try to do what we did [on Friday] but just do a little bit more and do it better," Taylor said. "We have to knock down our shots, make our passes and play together."
Sounds like a kid that has grown up around championships, doesn't it?