All in a Day’s Work
Whether it’s Rocky Balboa or Benjamin Franklin, the people of Philadelphia carry a certain disposition towards hard work. This is an attitude that Taylor Bessick carries with him in everything he does. It’s the foundation of what is going to help him get to where he wants to go.
Growing up on the North side of Philadelphia, Bessick never played basketball. But as he started to grow, the basketball coach at his high school began his recruitment. “My coach had wanted me to play since my freshman year and I kept turning him down. ‘No basketball is not for me, it’s not my sport. ‘ One time he said, ‘Come on try it, if you don’t make the team, I won’t ask anymore.’ Of course, he kind of set me up, because he was going to put me on the team regardless.”
Once Bessick joined the basketball team his junior year, he discovered a natural talent and ability and began to love the game. Playing in a basketball hot bed like Philadelphia, Bessick really developed his identity as a basketball player. “You have to compete, you have to hustle and outwork the next man because they want what you have. It’s really competitive and teaches you a lot about the sport.”
His early success and strides he made on the court earned Taylor a scholarship to prep school in Philadelphia. It was like starting over for Bessick all over again. “(It was) really tough at first. Guys were a lot bigger and stronger than me, so I had to develop and adjust to the style of play.”
Bessick faced that challenge how he has with most everything, hard work. Averaging 15.5 points, eight rebounds and two blocks a game, Bessick flourished and continued to improve each time on the court.
That led Bessick to JMU, where as a freshman he averaged 11 minutes a game, learning behind a senior-laden group of Rayshawn Goins, AJ Davis and Andrey Semenov. But with much of that group graduating, Taylor has been thrust into a starting role. When asked how he faces the expanded role, his answer is simple, “Hard work. A lot of time in the gym, good coaching staff and people around me keep pushing me to do better.”
Bessick has seen his minutes jump to 23 per game, averaging eight points and five rebounds for a JMU team that relies on his inside presence. It showed in the Dukes’ victory against San Jose State, when Bessick scored a career high 19 points on only ten shots.
Bessick knows that the flashes he’s shown this season are only the beginning for him as a player. He tries to model his game off Carmelo Anthony’s ability to play inside and outside, but it’s what he takes away from Tyson Chandler and Kenneth Faried that has aided his development as a player. When he talks about his style, he says, “Aggressiveness, Tyson Chandler, defense, rebound and run the floor. Same thing with Kenneth Faried, he hustles.”
As Bessick continues to learn and grow on a young team, he knows he can continue to get better and improve. For someone that is only in his fifth year of organized basketball, there are things you see Bessick do each game that leave you with a sense that he could be a very special player. But it is his attitude regarding his development as a player that leaves you thinking he will get there. When asked about what he needs to work on, Bessick responds, “More hustle, more running the floor, more of everything. There’s not really one thing you can improve on but a lot of things. In order to be the best you have to do everything the best.”
His plan for getting there? He only knows one way. He learned it a long time ago growing up on the North side of Philly. Hard work.