by Doug Eads, CJ Sports Correspondent Commonwealth Journal
Most of the time in sports, numbers, stats, and averages tell the whole story.
In Taylor Gover’s case however, the above doesn’t necessarily hold true.
Now when it comes to numbers, Taylor Gover’s stack up against anybody, but that’s just part of the story of this very special athlete.
Gover played his final basketball game for the Pulaski County Maroons last month in the 12th Regional Tournament, culminating arguably, the best prep basketball career of any player that has donned the maroon and white uniform — and there have been some great ones to come along in the storied history of Pulaski County basketball.
Gover finished his prep career at PC as the Maroons all-time leading scorer, scoring 2,195 points in a stellar four-year career.
He was The Commonwealth Journal’s Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, and the only player from our community to ever be nominated for the national McDonald’s All-Star Game.
He was named a member of the Kentucky-Indiana Junior All-Star Team last season, and was voted as the 12th Region’s Player of the Year for his senior year that was just completed.
But all of those accolades are only part of the story in describing Taylor Gover.
As good of a player as he is on the basketball court, what’s most impressive is that Gover is a better person away from sports.
Gover is a very humble kid, who is a kind and caring individual — he just happens to be an outstanding basketball player. And, that is why The University of the Cumberlands is so excited about the fact the PC senior signed his national letter of intent on Tuesday afternoon to play his collegiate basketball for the Patriots.
As head coach Donnie Butcher put it, his team and program got an absolute steal with the signing of PC’s all-time leading scorer, when Taylor Gover signed his name on the dotted line yesterday afternoon in front of friends and family.
“Taylor’s simply got all the intangibles going for himself that every coach is looking for,” stated the Patriots head coach.
“When you’re trying to keep the program as successful as we are — there’s a reason why we’ve had success, and that’s because we try to get people that have the entire package,” continued coach Butcher. “And, we identified Taylor as a freshman in high school as a kid that we were going to pay close attention to for the next four years. No matter how good he is at basketball, he’s every bit better than that off the floor as a person. I can tell you this — we know we’re very fortunate to get him.”
Butcher says that like most kids coming out of high school, Gover will need to work on his body and get stronger, but from a skill set on the hardwood, he’s ready to make a contribution for the Patriots right away.
“His skill set — he’ll be fine,” pointed out Butcher. “We watched him at last weekend’s Kentucky All-Star tryouts, and from a skills set, he’ll be just fine. From a knowledge standpoint, he’ll be just fine. He’s way ahead of the game, and he’s just got so much savvy to his game. He’s just got to figure out how to get it done at this level. However, with his ability to shoot it, handle it, pass it, and decide where it needs to go, he’s way, way above the average curve. I think he’s going to be just fine, and like all of the other kids we’ve signed, we signed Taylor because we think he will contribute for us next year as a freshman.”
As for Taylor Gover himself, he acknowledged there wasn’t a ton of offers coming his way for basketball, however he almost knew from the outset The University of the Cumberlands was the right place for him.
“We toured a couple of colleges and we prayed a lot, and I just felt like this was a golden opportunity for me,” said Gover.
“I had a great time over there when I went for my visit, and the coaches were all very nice to me and treated me really well.” continued the PC great. “I felt like with it being a school that’s fit more toward Christ, I would fit in really well there.”
Gover says he wants to get a little bigger and stronger before he heads over to The Cumberlands, and he will work to do just that.
“I’m going to stay in the weight room and try to get stronger over the summer,” said Gover. “However, I’m not saying I don’t have anything else to work on. I’m going to work on my ball handling and my shooting, and on every aspect of my game. I think as a player you’ve always got room to improve.”
As for the man that had the privilege to coach Taylor Gover during his outstanding high school career, his uncle and head coach at Pulaski County High School — Al Gover — says that he feels the Patriots got a very good basketball player to compete at the NAIA level.
“Taylor’s just a terrific player in all areas of the game,” stated Al Gover.
“He’s always willing to do exactly what you asked him to do,” added the PC coach. “We asked him to do a lot of things while he was here — scoring, distributing the basketball, rebounding — he did all those things well. He’s done a great job here at Pulaski. You’re not going to find a better person than Taylor Gover either. He’s top of the line character-wise, and Cumberland is getting one heck of a player.”
Yes indeed, the University of the Cumberlands is getting a great player in Taylor Gover, but more importantly for the Patriots, they’re getting an even better person — the numbers and the skill set on the basketball court are just the icing on the cake.
It’s still a long way to October and preseason practice, but the Patriots have already scored one of the biggest ‘W’s’ around with the signing of Taylor Gover.
Pulaski County’s loss will surely go down as The Cumberlands gain.