HUNTINGTON — Marshall University freshman guard Andrew Taylor took to the basketball court Monday and started working on long-range shots with fellow freshman Devin Collins.
Within seconds, Marshall junior Jannson Williams walked up to Taylor with a question.
“Hey,” Williams said. “Have you heard back yet?”
It is a question that Taylor has been asked multiple times over the last few weeks and, still, the answer is the same.
Taylor and Marshall University have filed an appeal with the NCAA to grant the freshman transfer from Furman immediate eligibility, but Marshall head coach Dan D’Antoni said that no word has come back from that appeal as of yet.
“He got a letter that they wanted more information,” D’Antoni said. “I guess we’ll send that in and hopefully hear before Thursday.”
The appeal has been an ongoing situation for many weeks. It’s a situation in which D’Antoni, Taylor and Marshall’s compliance department have all been working to get a definitive answer either way. They want to know how to plan for Taylor’s involvement in the 2019-20 season.
If Taylor wins his appeal, he will be immediately eligible. If Taylor loses the appeal, he will not be eligible until after the first semester, meaning his first game will be a Dec. 16 contest at Morehead State.
Either way, D’Antoni and Taylor could mentally plan if such a ruling is made. Quite possibly the worst scenario for both is the wait-and-see game, which is where the situation currently stands.
D’Antoni said it is frustrating, but it’s something that Taylor is handling well for a young player. The Thundering Herd’s head coach said Taylor’s energy level and focus in practice have not diminished due to the situation.
“He’s quiet. He doesn’t really go hard either direction on anything,” D’Antoni said. “He stays pretty much level with his reactions.”
The problem for Taylor is that, in a year where there is plenty of turnover and even veterans are seeing new roles on the team, he has not been able to take part in the scrimmages that have helped D’Antoni mold his early-season lineup.
D’Antoni is in a hard spot because he wants to figure out where Taylor fits, but can’t do so with him unable to perform on the court in anything other than practices. With chemistry playing such a big factor in D’Antoni’s tempo game, getting Taylor used to on-court speed — especially as a ball-handler out front — is vital to his success.
Adding a ball-handler into the lineup who isn’t used to that game speed could disrupt the entire chemistry of the team once the season starts, which is why D’Antoni has consistently communicated with Marshall’s compliance department on the status of the appeal.
“I want to start out winning, obviously,” D’Antoni said. “Still, that’s the most important thing.”
In a year in which D’Antoni has shuffled his lineup plenty already, he is keeping a keen eye on Taylor’s situation. The longer it goes, the harder it becomes to expect Taylor to make an immediate impact.
“Could he make a difference as a freshman against Notre Dame, Florida or even Robert Morris? I don’t know,” D’Antoni said. “Maybe he can. We’ll see. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on him when he walks into it when we’ve got four returning players.”
It is a scenario in which there is no current solution and there is not any indication as to when it will be resolved. As that solution becomes more clear, D’Antoni will deal with it as he does with most everything.
He will adjust on the fly.