Former UTC great Johnny Taylor returns to complete his degree after 15-year professional career.
Courtesy: GoMocs.com
Johnny Taylor Returns as Mocs Student Assistant

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.---Chattanooga Mocs Head Basketball Coach Will Wade announces former UTC great Johnny Taylor’s (1996-97) addition to his staff as a student assistant in 2013-14. Taylor is returning to Chattanooga to complete his degree after a 15-year professional basketball career.

“The chance to enhance our program by adding Johnny to our staff as a daily reminder of Chattanooga’s rich tradition is beneficial for everyone involved,” Wade said. “Chattanooga Basketball is a family, and I am thrilled to be able to help Johnny achieve his dreams while adding another role model for our current players. This is a win-win for Johnny, the city of Chattanooga and our program.”

Taylor has 26 hours remaining to complete his degree in Criminal Justice. He played two seasons for the Mocs leading the most successful team in school history. His 1997 squad made the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament defeating Georgia (73-70) and Illinois (75-63) before losing by six to Providence (71-65).

“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Taylor stated. “I am excited beyond words and very thankful to be able to finish my degree and get my foot in the door in the coaching profession. I’m speechless really.

“I’m very appreciative of Coach Wade bringing me back and giving me the chance to be a part of it all.”

The 6-9 forward, who is a native of Chattanooga and prepped at Howard High School, led the Mocs to a 24-11 record, SoCon South Division Championship, SoCon Tourney Title and the epic Sweet 16 run. He helped turn around a season that began with a 5-7 start. After a disappointing loss to Canisius in the Dr Pepper Classic Championship game, UTC won 11 straight. It closed the season winning seven in a row before losing to Providence in the Sweet 16.

That's highlight reel material for any former Moc, but Taylor took it a step further. He became Chattanooga's first student-athlete to get drafted in the first round of a professional draft. He was the 17th pick of the 1997 NBA Draft going to the Orlando Magic.

Click the video links for a look into that special night for Johnny as well as one for career highlights. He is one of 12 SoCon student-athletes to be drafted in the first round in the long history of the league. In the modern era, he is one of three (Taylor, Kevin Martin, WCU, 2004, Stephen Curry, Davidson, 2009).

Taylor played four seasons in the NBA before going overseas to ply his craft. He played 11 more overseas with stops in Italy, Spain and Russia among others concluding in Bahrain in 2012.

For his career at UTC, Taylor scored 1,070 points which is 15th in the DI era (1978-present) and third among two-year players behind Derrick Kirce (1,113, 1990-91) and Stephen McDowell (1,075, 2008-09). He owns the fourth-best scoring average at 17.3 points per game.

He led the squad in scoring both seasons. He averaged 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in 1996-97, while recording more assists (74) than turnovers (72) which is a remarkable feat for a big man. He tallied 18.2 points and 7.1 boards in his first season with his hometown team.

Taylor is the Mocs leader in 30-point games in a season with four in 1995-96 posting three 30-point/10-rebound nights. For his career, he topped 20 points 25 times including four 30-point games. He had 16 double-doubles. He had career highs of 34 points (Samford, 12/30/95 & The Citadel 2/24/96) and 15 rebounds (USC-Aiken, 11/23/96).

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