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The Sad Tale of Diamond Taylor

The downfall of a former high school hoops star began at Wisconsin in the fall of 2009. It reminds us of how many second chances athletes get to succeed and ultimately, how tragic it is when they cannot take advantage, not to mention what a tricky proposition recruiting can be.

This is not a feel good story of "Where are they now?" unfortunately.

On Monday we learned that former Wisconsin basketball player Diamond Taylor was suspended indefinitely by Southern Illinois for picking up a DUI, his third run-in with the law since transferring to the school in Carbondale, Ill. Taylor, now a redshirt junior, is already facing discipline for stealing a bike and last year was suspended after an arrest for marijuana possession.

The term "former Wisconsin basketball player" barely applies, of course, because Taylor never officially competed for the Badgers. He withdrew from the University of Wisconsin while facing burglary charges with then-teammate Jeremy Glover.

Back in the spring of 2008, Taylor was a hot-shot combo guard from Chicago's St. Joseph High who was a minor coup for the Badgers when he became the first player to commit to Bo Ryan's 2009 recruiting class. A senior year transfer to Bolingbrook coupled with a slide from a 4-star recruit to an unranked one meant expectations were tempered for his freshman season in Madison.

Saying he made an error in judgment on the night of September 5, 2009, is a vast understatement. Booted from the basketball team shortly thereafter due to university policy, Ryan defenders claimed Taylor was a good kid and there was no way he could have anticipated this kind of behavior from a new recruit. And perhaps that theory remains 100% valid.

But what we didn't know then was that Taylor was beginning to take a darker turn in his life. We've seen the bad decisions start to pile up now, to the point where Taylor -- who averaged 4.3 ppg last year for the Salukis -- may never finish the career that at one time held so much promise. ESPN's Eamonn Brennan discussed the possibility that Taylor is still hanging on by a thread because of the impact his dismissal could have on Southern Illinois' APR score.

The incident appeared to have an effect on Wisconsin's subsequent recruiting efforts to some degree, as the staff has since pulled away from prospects that emerge with a hint of academic or personality difficulties.

While Badger fans are relieved that Taylor's departure three years ago paved the way for Josh Gasser's arrival, we can all agree it's disheartening to see a young man throw that much opportunity away.

As I wrote at the time of the burglary in Madison, you hope the person learns from this and straightens up ... but in this case you fear that you know better than that. Best of luck to Taylor ...


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