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From zero to hero: Small-town Kansas basketball player Taylor Robertson to become NCAA 3-pointer leader

Taylor Robertson started to get noticed when she was always seen with a basketball.

People in the small town of McPherson, Kansas, started to notice the young phenomenon because he was doing well and spent a lot of time at the local YMCA. There, Robertson learned to respect the art of competition, which he then used in his everyday life.

“Anyone who knows Taylor knows that she will find a way to compete in anything,” said Taylor’s mother, Terri. “Our family plays cards a lot, and whether it’s Uno, a video game, or a race to see who can walk the most on their Fitbit, she’s always the most competitive and almost always wins.”

Robertson’s love for basketball is still fueled by the competitiveness and dedication he learned as a child. He has made 497 3-pointers, which ties the all-time NCAA record with No. 14 Oklahoma (16-3, 6-2 Big 12) and No. 18 Iowa State (14-4, 6-2) on Saturday at 3:00 PM in Ames.

Robertson spent a lot of time with her father, Dave, when she was young. Dave worked at a sports card and memorabilia store in McPherson.

In charge of the close relationship? Their love for basketball.

Terri said, “She grew up playing sports all the time.” “She always wanted to go to the gym, and she wanted him to teach her something new. She would look for new ways to handle the ball for her to learn.

Taylor’s relationship with his father only got better over time, and it was especially strong while he was in college.

Robertson had talked to a number of schools in the area, but he hadn’t talked to any Power Five programs yet. When then-OU coach Sherri Coale and her staff called Taylor and asked to see the young star, Robertson knew the most important thing was to see his OU fan father.

Terri said, “It was right before she went into hospice care, so it was a very sad time for us.” “She had the OU fight song on her phone, and as she walked into the room, it started playing. She was so happy, and she knew that it was important to him because she had watched Oklahoma her whole life.

Shortly after his father died, Robertson started shooting 3-pointers for the Sooners, where he made 497 of them.

Even though the 497 score says a lot, Robertson’s ability to get things done may be even more impressive.

Even though he and former Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell are tied for the most 3-pointers in NCAA history, he caught the seventh-most tries. Mitchell played two more games than Robertson and caught 153 more 3-point shots, even though Mitchell was given a fifth year of eligibility.

“When I was trying to get her to join the team, her consistency stood out,” Coale said. “It doesn’t matter if she missed five in a row or made ten in a row; she always thinks the next shot will go well, and I’ve never seen that change. I have never seen her lose faith in her ability to shoot a basketball.

Robertson has the best 3-point percentage of the 16 players who have tried at least 1,000 3-pointers in their careers. His 3-point percentage is 43.9%. Robertson’s consistency on the field starts with his pre-game routine, which hasn’t changed at all during his time in college. She has always been the first Sooner on the court for warmups, so she could get more shots in before the usual routine.

Robertson fights his way around the 3-point line and takes a lot of shots from different spots on the arc. He then goes to the free throw line and takes a lot of free throws to end the routine.

Because he did this over and over, Taylor had the best active free throw percentage in the country for his whole career. During the 2020-21 season, the then-junior made 57 free throws and only missed one of them.

Robertson said, “It’s just something I’ve always done.” “Before we start the team warm-up, I like to pull up and be free.”

Robertson has had a triple in 61 straight games, going back to early February 2021. Only three times in her 137-game career did she not hit a triple.

The senior was also very good at taking care of the ball. He never turned it over more than 1.7 times per game in a season. Robertson is one of only two Big 12 players who average less than one turnover per game out of the 36 who play at least 25 minutes per game on average.

“I liked her because she was sneaky,” said Gayla Soyez, Taylor’s AAU coach. “She wasn’t the most athletic, and the only thing that made her stand out was her intelligence…. She knows a lot about how the game works. I’ve always thought that when Taylor has the ball, good things will happen.

As impressive as the different 3-point records may seem, for Robertson, the most important thing was to win games.

Coale remembers Robertson’s hard work after the Sooners lost to Kansas 74-64 at Allen Fieldhouse in early December 2021, even though they only had six players on the court.

“I remember seeing her face in the locker room…. “She was totally worn out,” Coale said. “I can still see that face in my mind, and I remember thinking at the time, ‘This is how a really dedicated athlete looks after a competition.’ In my mind, she is always a little girl who fights with everything she has whenever she gets the chance.

“All the big shots are great, but I care most about who he is as a person and as a competitor.”

Robertson is used to playing long, hard minutes on the field. During the 2020-21 season, he will only be taken off the field in eight of the Sooners’ 24 games. In the Big 12 Tournament later that season, when OU lost to Oklahoma State in overtime, it may have been the most important.

Robertson finished the game with 24 points and six 3-pointers. He was the only player on either team to play all 45 minutes of regulation and overtime. This was OU’s last game of the COVID-led season 19 and Coale’s last game of his career.

It was a lot like Robertson’s 2019 homecoming against Wichita State at Kansas. At the half, the then-sophomore had only 11 points and Kansas was behind 50-37. Some talk during the middle of the game got Robertson going, and he ended up scoring 30 points on nine 3-pointers. OU almost won, but lost 88-83.

“Someone hit the bear,” said TJ Grant, the person who trains Robertson. “That was the first time I realized, when she was in college, that she can be a specialist at any level and do it for a long time.”

Even when Robertson was at his worst, Soyez gave him confidence, which shows that he has always been willing to take on challenges. Soyez remembers a game where Robertson had one of his worst shooting days, but in the last few seconds, he had a chance to win the game for his team.

Soyez made a play so that Robertson could try for an open triple. Even though most of the plan worked, the 3-point phenomenon had a rare miss that cost them the game.

When Soyez talked to Taylor’s father on the phone after the game, he asked:

“Why did you give it to Taylor there?”

“Why shouldn’t I?” said Soyez.

The same three-word reason that Soyez used was also used by Baranczyk. This gave Robertson the chance to give OU a win against Kansas State on February 26, 2022. This time, Robertson made a 3-point shot at the end of the game to give the Sooners a 72-69 win.

The view from the place where the radio broadcast of Taylor Robertson’s buzzer-beating hat-trick to beat Kansas State 72-69 could be heard. With the movie, @DrakeDiacon, @BrianBrinkley The call is fine. Before the next time magic happens…

When Coale retired at the end of the 2020 season, there was talk about Robertson going to a different school. Coale picked Robertson, and after she scored 24 points in her first college game, she became a starter for the Sooners for her first three years there.

Even though the vacancy didn’t cause too much worry, Robertson has decided to keep his legacy going at OU.

Terri said, “He never thought about moving.” “She thinks that things will work out if you work hard. She was a little worried, but when she talked to Jennie (Baranczyk) for the first time, she was so happy. I don’t think any other manager would have been a better fit for Taylor and the way he plays than him.”

Robertson had to make another big choice during the offseason after the next season, when she was given an extra year of eligibility because the COVID-19 pandemic would make the 2020 season impossible to play. Robertson was fifth in the Big 12 in points per game (17.2) and fourth in the NCAA in 3-point percentage (44.4%) at the end of her senior year.

The impressive season earned him a spot on the All-Big 12 team, an honorable mention on the AP All-America team, and a spot on the short list for the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, which goes to the best shooting guard in the country.

Even though his successful season made it possible for him to play at a higher level, Robertson still had things to do at OU. After playing in the NCAA Tournament, it was easy for Robertson to decide if he wanted to use his extra year of eligibility.

“She’s worried about coming out on top. Terri said, “She wants to go back to the NCAA Tournament and try to win a title.” “She just seems to be so determined. When she wants to do something, she works hard until she does it. Whatever she decides to do after basketball, that kind of determination will help her.”

During Baranczyk’s first two years with the team, the Sooners got stronger and had more players on the team. Robertson’s approach to scoring was a result of the change from Coale’s last season, when teams usually had six people, to Baranczyk’s team, which had a lot of players.

The senior averages 11 points per game, but Baranczyk has helped him improve as a rebounder and passer. Robertson has gotten 151 assists in the last year and a half, compared to just 123 in his first three years.

Last year was the first time in his career that he had more than 100 rebounds, and he is on track to do the same this year.

The individual and statistical sacrifice made the Sooners 16-3 and No. 14 in the AP Top 25. This was the first time since 2009 that a Big 12 team was ranked higher than the Sooners.

Grant said, “He’s not the kind of leader who gets in your face and yells at you.” “He leads in a quiet way. “I can show you how I study film by how many hours I spend in the gym and how much I prepare.’ Everything he does is an example, and people follow him.”

As Robertson scores from the 3-point line, he starts to think about a bigger goal that is coming up. Robertson wants to lead the Sooners to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament by emphasizing one-on-one play, a competitive spirit, and a pure love of the game.

Coale said, “The ones who make it are the ones who wake up every day with passion and can’t wait to play basketball.” “And for Taylor, it doesn’t matter how many people are there or if it’s a Sunday afternoon game or a trip to the final four. She wants to win and expects to win a basketball game.”

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