For the better part of two years, Taylor Jones had been looking forward to this moment.
It was June 24 and Jones finally had stepped on the Oregon State campus to begin her college career as a member of the women’s basketball program.
“I remember the first day we got here I looked to my dad and said 'this is what I’ve been waiting for,' ” Jones said on Monday.
While Jones officially committed to the Beavers last November, the 6-foot-3 standout from Dallas Christian in Texas, knew long before that date that Corvallis and the Beavers’ program was where she needed to call home for college.
“Everything about this program I love and I’m so excited to start the season and have tons of supporters,” Jones said. “Like the fan base here is incredible. Just knowing you have their support, that’s a big reason why the team is the way they are because they have so much support and so many people that believe in them.”
Still, Jones, who was rated a five-star recruit and the No. 43 overall player by espnW, took official visits to UCLA and Florida State just to solidify her choice.
“I knew deep down this was the place I wanted to go, but I still wanted to make sure that this is where I wanted to go,” she said. “I wanted to be sure. I didn’t want to have any speculations or doubts coming into it.”
While the Pac-12 is regarded as one of the best conferences in the country, Jones felt it was a good place for her to play as a combo center/forward. She said coach Scott Rueck said she could play the 3, 4 or 5 positions for the Beavers.
“I’d been told that the Pac-12 was probably the best fit for me because I’m not really a center and I’m not really a forward and if I wanted to be a center in another conference I would have to put on like 50 pounds,” Jones said. “If I wanted to be a forward in another conference, I would still have to probably put on weight. But (the conference) is more like athletic and versatility and skill. That payed a big factor in it.”
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Jones was drawn to the sport of basketball because of the speed and physicality of the game, as well as the aggressiveness that comes with it.
And while she also likes the game because of the opportunity to play multiple positions, she understands there is a lot for her to learn in a short period of time to be able to make an immediate impact.
“I’m going to have to do and a lot of extra work and just a lot of commitment that I’m going to do in order to be the player that I want to be,” she said. “Right now is the time I need to learn the most and try and show everyone what I’ve got and who I can be as a player and just try to develop as much as I can right now.”
Jones admits the jump to the Pac-12 will be a steep one as she said the competition she faced in high school was not what would be considered the best.
She knows that won’t be the case anymore.
“It will just be different but it’s going to be a good different,” Jones said. “It’s going to be learning and I’m excited.”
The aspects of her game Jones wants to focus on is getting stronger and improving her 3-point shooting. Toss in some speed and agility work, as well as building her confidence, and Jones has plenty on her plate over the next few months.
She will be driven, no doubt, having set a goal to be the Pac-12 freshman of the year.
“It’s a very big goal, but I hope that I can get there and I’m going to work as hard as I can to (achieve it),” she said.