Simeon's Taylor focusing on the court

The schools recruiting Simeon senior forward Steve Taylor won’t be on his mind this July. Where ESPN and others have him ranked won’t be either.

All Taylor cares about for the next month is the actual basketball portion of it.

“I’m really excited to get out here and play,” said Taylor, who will play for the Mac Irvin Fire in July. “The rankings don’t matter at all. At the end of the day, we all have to lace them up. The recruiting really doesn’t matter. I don’t look at that stuff. I don’t think about that now.

“I like [July.] We get to be away from home, grow up, meet some new people, go out and play and compete against the best talent.”

Taylor, a 6-7, 180-pound forward, is considered to be among that elite talent. He is the only Illinois player in ESPN’s Class of 2012 top 100.

Taylor solidified himself as one of the state’s best while helping Simeon to its second consecutive state title last season. He showed off a versatile game while averaging 10 points and seven rebounds. In the Wolverines’ supersectional win over Farragut, he had team-highs of 20 points and 11 rebounds.

“Taylor has that look -- the length, wingspan, mobility and terrific looking basketball body and frame,” said local recruiting analyst Joe Henricksen, who publishes the City/Suburban Hoops Report. “What has separated him from the player that he was to the player that he is has been his increased productivity, which was a bit lacking and inconsistent early in his career.

“Plus, he went from an average shooter to a very good shooter from the perimeter, especially for a player his size. That's what makes him an ideal face-up 4-man at the next level, who in time could potentially add to his game and provide some minutes on the wing down the road.”

Plenty of schools have taken interest in recruiting those tools. DePaul, Marquette, Memphis, Missouri and Texas are among those who have called Mac Irvin coach Mike Irvin about Taylor.

DePaul has been the strongest on him.

“I know he’s a priority for DePaul,” Irvin said. “They want him. They want him bad. They got him as their No. 1 target.”

Getting Taylor to commit to DePaul would be another step for the program. The Blue Demons have struggled in recent years to recruit Chicago, and second-year coach Oliver Purnell is attempting to change that.

“Is Taylor a typical No. 1 prospect we've seen out of the state of Illinois?” Henricksen said. “No, but I still think any bona fide, legitimate high-major player from the Chicago area would certainly give DePaul a little local recruiting mojo. There is no question about that.”

One team that could jump into the mix for Taylor in July is Illinois. According to a source close to the program, the Illini will closely follow him this month. Illinois only has one scholarship for 2012.

“Illinois is certainly interested and will keep a close eye on Taylor throughout July,” Henricksen said. “They are obviously a bit limited with their 2012 openings on the recruiting front, but Taylor is definitely on their board.”

Irvin wasn’t worried about Taylor’s recruitment either. He doesn’t believe Taylor or any of his players are close to committing. Irvin’s focus was on the court as well.

“In the month, I just want him to be Steve Taylor,” Irvin said. “I want him to show his all-around game. In practice, he’s putting it on the floor. He’s posting up.

“His spring time was big time. The reason we won so many tournaments was because of Steve Taylor. He’s been there, putting in the work.”

The Mac Irvin Fire will begin their July in the D-I Elite tournament at York High School this weekend and then will bounce around the country. They finish up in Fort Wayne, Ind., at the end of the month.