A stacked class of newcomers mark head coach Kara Lawson's first major accomplishment at Duke. Heading into the 2021-22 season, we take a look at film from Duke women's basketball's newest players. Previously, we analyzed Lexi Gordon, Lee Volker, Amaya Finklea-Guity and Nyah Green. Next up, we look at Celeste Taylor:
The junior from Valley Stream, N.Y., played two years at Texas before transferring to Duke in April in order to be closer to her family in New York, according to a source for the Austin American-Statesman. This is a good thing for Duke, as Taylor is a proven player who brings an energy and explosiveness that will significantly boon the Blue Devils’ quest for a championship.
The best way to characterize Taylor is that she is everywhere. Watch any Longhorns game from the past two years and you’ll see Taylor hustling all over the court, resulting in solid play at both ends.
At Texas, the 5-foot-11 guard was a reliable offensive force, averaging 12.3 points per game last season, second on the team. Her shooting is nothing to write home about, with her field goal percentage last season coming in at just 35.3%. However, this could reflect the more difficult nature of the shots she takes and is often outweighed by the sheer amount of attempts she makes, as she led her team with 13.8 attempts per game. With even a slight improvement in shooting, the guard could be a versatile source of offense for the Blue Devils.
Taylor's real offensive talent, however, lies in her ability to read the defense and her outstanding quickness. Making good use of her energy and solid handles, Taylor’s greatest strength is penetrating defenses and driving to the net. Watch as she sprints past the Baylor defense in the Big 12 Championship semifinal to drop an easy floater.
Her hustle and explosiveness translate defensively, as well, as she is able to keep up with opponents’ efforts to attack the basket. Additionally, the ex-Longhorn can beat opponents to the ball making her a solid rebounder, coming in second on her team with 4.9 rebounds per game.
The most unique aspect of her defensive game, however, is the way she uses her awareness of the court to complement her speed, resulting in an opportunistic mindset and big plays at unexpected times. Taylor led the Longhorns in steals, and in this clip it’s easy to see why as she finds just enough space to take the ball away from a Bruins player in their Elite Eight matchup against UCLA last season.
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Overall, Taylor has a lot to offer the team at both ends, mostly revolving around her speed and her never-quit attitude toward the game. A bonafide workhorse and talented all-around player, the Blue Devil faithful should be excited to watch what she brings to Durham next season.