CLEVELAND — Andrew Taylor has the face of a choir boy.
Calm. Serene. Peaceful.
The intriguing part is hidden beneath Marshall University’s newly eligible, redshirt freshman point guard’s tranquil visage, beats the heart of an assassin and the shooting eye to match.
Just ask the three opponents who have faced Taylor.
The Thundering Herd is 2-1 since the 6-foot-3 Taylor joined the starting lineup; defeating Morehead State, 89-62, on the road; beating Eastern Kentucky, 90-72, in the Cam Henderson Center; and losing at Northern Iowa, 88-80, despite Taylor’s 27 points.
Taylor’s impact has been undeniable.
The native of Corbin, Kentucky, is averaging 16.0 points (team high) with 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.3 steals. He is shooting .462 from the floor (18 of 39) including a team-high .444 on 3-pointers (8 of 18) and .800 at the foul line (4 of 5).
Why, Taylor even has earned accolades already, winning Conference USA “Freshman of the Week” honors for his performance against Northern Iowa.
Who would have thought just three games ago that Taylor would be one of Marshall’s leaders as the Herd takes on Duquesne at approximately 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the second game of the inaugural Cleveland Classic here in Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse?
Just one guy.
Taylor’s impressive play hasn’t surprised Marshall’s head coach a bit.
“No, no,” said D’Antoni with a smile. “If it had been a surprise, I wouldn’t have started him in the first game [at Morehead State]. We knew. We jumped him into the lineup as quick as we could. We knew he’d be a game-changer for this team. And he’s going to be.”
“I agree,” said D’Antoni. “We’re up another level with him. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t go after another point guard. We had him here practicing and knew what we had. It has worked out well.”
Taylor enrolled at Marshall after a brief stay at Furman in time for the second semester of the 2018-19 school year. He sat out that semester along with the fall semester in 2019.
But since Taylor practiced for a year against his Thundering Herd teammates, there was no adjustment period whatsoever. Instead, Taylor just walked right in and started playing like a veteran.
“He’s that good,” said D’Antoni. “Well, he did have an adjustment period in a way ... he practiced with us for a year. And he played against our defense for a half a year. Our defense is solid. That got him prepared for the defenses he’s going to face.
“I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on him, but it’s going to happen. I don’t think he’s at his ... people are going to see more from him. He’s not a complete player yet, so everyone will see a lot more from him.”
As much of a game-changer as Taylor already is, he’s not going to do anything but get better.
“He just gives you that guy, who can No. 1 get hard baskets,” said D’Antoni. “No. 2, he’s very consistent and plays well within himself. He gives you a calming effect on the floor.”
Then, on top of all that there is Taylor’s deceiving choir boy appearance.
“He’s strong, though,” said D’Antoni. “The first time he got here, Jarrod [hard-nosed guard Jarrod West] was going to test him, I guess. He really got — as Jarrod can — up into him defensively and Andy didn’t budge.
“Jarrod came over to me and said, ‘He’s going to really help us, Coach.’ “
First impressions almost always are right.