Taylor Ford is about doing whatever it takes.
No task or play is too small for the Nazareth forward as long as it aides in her squad coming out on the winning end of the scoreboard. Ford is tenacious on the boards, dives on the floor and finishes well around the basket. Her length and athleticism allow her to get from the opposite elbow to the corner in one fell swoop to contest a shot if need be.
“I like people who hustle,” she said. “On my team we have hustlers, but I feel like I’m the one if we need a steal at the end of the game I’ll go. If we need a rebound I’m going to get that rebound.”
That was apparent last season when Ford and her teammates were at St. Michael Academy, which closed its doors last March. Her 3-point play on a putback in the closing seconds helped give her team the lead for good to beat St. Peter’s for the CHSAA Class AA Archdiocesan title. The 6-foot-1 Ford was one of the team’s most consistent players on both ends down the stretch of the season.
“She has that thing that a lot of players don’t have and that’s just the intangible things she does for basketball,” said Nazareth coach Apache Paschall, who also coaches Ford on the Exodus NYC AAU team. “Get you that extra possession, dive for loose balls and cover the whole court.”
It is those skills that have colleges like Syracuse, Memphis, North Carolina, Baylor and Texas, among others, interested. They are going to have to wait a year. Ford, who is a 16-year-old senior, will attend prep school next season, according to Paschall. He and her mother felt it was the best move for her because of her age and to give her more time to develop her game. Amongst seniors she is currently ranked as one of the top 100 players in the country by scouting services.
“I think it’s good because I am younger than most everyone so I think another year will help prepare me more for college so I can get better in my development,” Ford said.
On the court she is working on her guard skills, especially her jump shot. It will add an aspect to her game that she will need at the next level. Paschall compared Ford’s potential this season to what the versatile and determined Jelleah Sidney did for the team in years past at St. Michael Academy. He sees her as someone who dares to do special things on the floor.
An improved Ford, who recently moved to The Bronx, on the perimeter would be a big boost to a Nazareth team that will lack experienced ball handlers as many of Paschall’s veteran guards appear to be headed elsewhere. Much of those duties will fall on freshman Bianca Cuevas as the squad tries to navigate through CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I. Ford will be asked to be an even more vocal leader than she has been in the past, something her outgoing personality fits.
“She is going to be the older statesmen now,” Paschall said. “It’s funny, 16 years old and she is an older statesmen.”
Her blue-collar mentality is exactly what he is looking for.
“I was always like that,” Ford said. … “If I’m doing bad on offense, my defense is always going to be good.”