Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
Taylor Wilson's recruitment changed quite quickly during a visit to West Point last month.
Before the trip, Wilson’s thoughts of attending a service academy extended to a brief look into the Naval Academy. She didn’t see the path as a fit.
Carroll's Taylor Wilson committed to Army on July 3. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Wilson, a rising senior at Archbishop Carroll, then visited the United States Military Academy.
To her surprise, she returned from the trip to New York with an offer and the thought that she might have found her future college home.
“I had an open mind about it, but I didn’t think it would be for me,” Wilson said. “But I ended up going for the first time and absolutely loving it and learning more about it after my visit and for the past three weeks and just knowing that it was the place for me.”
After some more research and another visit, Wilson felt comfortable trusting her gut.
She announced her commitment to Army on July 3, less than two months after Black Knights’ coach Missy Traversi and her staff began reaching out and three weeks after her first visit to West Point.
“It’s a different path than normal college,” Wilson said. “I thought that it would provide me with so many unique opportunities and experiences and it would just kind of mold me into a better person. I felt that serving my country is something that I wanted to do. And the challenge. It’s not going to be easy. I know that. It’s going to be a long journey, and I just felt that after learning so much about it, I knew I wanted to do it and I wanted to take on the challenge.”
Wilson loves to be challenged.
It’s something she said Archbishop Carroll coach Renie Shields and her assistants did during the last three seasons. The result? Turning Wilson into a first team All-Philadelphia Catholic League forward as a junior last season.
Wilson is a versatile 6-foot forward who is tough inside and can step out and shoot the three. She averaged 14.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during last season’s breakout campaign, helping the Patriots to an undefeated regular season and PCL runner-up finish.
“It hasn’t been easy and they’ve been very hard on me, but I’m very appreciative of that,” Wilson said of the Carroll staff, “because looking back from my freshman year to last year, the jump I made was very big and I couldn’t have done it without them. They’re a very big reason why I was able to be recruited D1 and commit to a D1 school.”
Wilson also had younger sister Brooke, a rising junior and Division I prospect in her own right, challenging her at practice and at home the past two seasons.
“We kind of are opposite players,” Wilson said. “Where my strengths are are her weaknesses and vice versa. We’ve really pushed each other to get better at what we’re not good at. We play one on one, we work out together and it also provides a little competitive nature. We are always pushing each other to get better and one-up each other.”
Division I colleges started reaching out to Wilson last September. She said most of her college interest came from the Ivy and Patriot Leagues. Wilson earned an offer from the University of New Hampshire in January and then added Cornell and College of Charleston in May.
After Army reached out around the same time, she took the first visit up to West Point in mid-June and added another offer. The Black Knights instantly rose toward the top of her list, but she felt she needed to know more.
Wilson researched the school and contacted anyone she could find to help her with the decision. She doesn’t have any military background in her family so she talked to people in the service then took another visit to campus and talked to administration, players on the team and students who weren’t playing sports.
“Just after learning and hearing what they all had to say, I just felt that it would be a place where I could thrive and do really well,” Wilson said. “There was just something in me that really, really wanted to do it. I felt that if I went against it, I would really regret it in the future.”
Her decision came down to Army and Cornell, located in Ithaca, N.Y. about three hours north and west of West Point. After gathering all the information, she made a decision.
“I knew where I wanted to go, and I didn’t want to end up going into July and having the opportunities and offers I had being lost because other girls committed before me,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she connected with Traversi and her staff throughout the quick but thorough recruitment process. She noted she’s already felt like family since her commitment to the program.
The trip to West Point from her home in Villanova, Pa. is about three hours, close enough for her parents to attend games. The Black Knights also play multiple teams in the Patriot League (Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh) in Pennsylvania.
Another factor in her decision making was on-court fit where Wilson and the Black Knights’ coaching staff agree she blends perfectly.
“They play aggressively up in your face and then on offense, they like to drive and kick,” Wilson said. “With my versatility, I feel like I can shoot outside. I can go in and post up and when talking to the coaches, that is what they were looking for in a player.”
Wilson was excited to get her decision out the way before the July live periods. She said she used to get nervous before the evaluation periods and has enjoyed the ability to just go out and have fun so far since her decision.
Heading into next season, Wilson has one goal in mind for her senior campaign: Win a PCL championship. The Patriots last won in 2019, the season before Wilson arrived on campus. Last season was the first time they reached the title game since.
A lot will fall on Wilson and her younger sister after the graduation of fellow All-PCL players Grace O’Neill (Drexel) and Maggie Grant (Villanova).
As always, she’s up for the challenge.
“I’m always looking to get better in various aspects of my game,” Wilson said. “We want to win a PCL championship. We want to win. With this team that we’re going to have next year, we definitely have all the talent that we need and the heart and the hustle to do it.”