Taylor Woodhouse

Olive Branch Middle School guard Taylor Woodhouse (1) drives to the basket in a recent game against Horn Lake. An eighth-grader, Woodhouse has begun receiving attention from college programs, such as Georgia Tech, which recently offered her a scholarship to play for their program once she finishes her high school career.  

Olive Branch is currently the home of some of the best girls’ basketball talent in the state, most recently personified in Lady Quistor senior point guard Myah Taylor, the reigning two-time Gatorade state Player of the Year.

But, major college recruiters won’t be taking Olive Branch off their travel itinerary any time soon after Taylor leaves for Starkville and Mississippi State next fall, however.

In fact, Georgia Tech of the ACC has already got a leg up on possibly the next standout girls’ basketball player from the school on East Sandidge Road, although right now, guard Taylor Woodhouse is dominating the hardcourt down the street, at Olive Branch Middle School on Blocker Street.

That’s right. The Yellow Jackets of the same league as national powers Duke, Clemson and Notre Dame recently offered the eighth-grader a scholarship to play there when she graduates high school. That’s five years from now, in 2021.

Woodhouse has been burning the nets for the middle school Lady Quistors to an average of about 25 points a game this season. When Olive Branch defeated Horn Lake 55-7 in a recent contest, Woodhouse accounted for 29 of that total, much of it coming from beyond the three-point line.

But, it was her summer play with the Huntsville, Ala.-based Southern Starz AAU team that garnered the attention of Georgia Tech, along with other college programs, according to Taylor’s father, Burl.

“She got a chance to play in front of college coaches three times,” Woodhouse said. “In doing that, she performed pretty well in front of them. She received an offer from Georgia Tech and South Alabama University came to watch her at a practice. The coaches are paying attention.”

Woodhouse and Taylor’s middle school coach Thomas Hurst both agree the youngster hasn’t achieved the attention she’s received without putting in a lot of time and giving up a lot of sweat.

They quickly added Taylor won’t be distracted by the growing recognition.

“She’s been working on basketball since maybe the age of three or four,” Woodhouse said. “It’s just a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice. She don’t do a lot of things the other girls do because she’s always in the gym. It’s just a tribute to her hard work.”

It’s a regimen that’s focused and intent on succeeding in the game of basketball. Hurst said Taylor’s day usually starts with practice with his team in the morning, followed by school and then heading over to the high school to practice with the Lady Quistor varsity squad.

Taylor also works with professional trainer Scotty Mason in Memphis.

Hurst said Taylor’s “basketball IQ” is light years ahead of other players her age.

“You ask her to do something and it’s ‘Yes sir,’” Hurst said. “If she makes a mistake, a lot of times she’s looking at me and saying, ‘That’s my mistake, I know what I did wrong.’ She does anything you ask her to do and she’s a phenomenal teammate.”

Hurst expects the Georgia Tech offer to be used as motivation for her to continue her driven efforts on the floor.

“I see her being probably one of the best players to come through this middle school and she’ll probably be one of the best to go through the high school,” Hurst said. “I look forward to watching her the next four years.”

Which begs the question, is Taylor Woodhouse the next Myah Taylor?

“In a couple of years, they’ll be thinking of Taylor Woodhouse at Olive Branch High School, when Myah Taylor is at State doing her thing,” Hurst said. “The recognitions and opportunities for college are there for her.”

“I’m not ready to say that, yet,” Burl Woodhouse added. “But, I think as far as being on a high level like that, yes. I think Taylor has the opportunity to be on a level with Myah Taylor.”

It must be something about that name… Taylor.

Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.

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