news after losing mother to cancer camryn taylor becomes fan favorite at virginia
Sports

After losing mother to cancer, Camryn Taylor becomes fan favorite at Virginia

camryn taylor
Camryn Taylor. Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia senior forward Camryn Taylor has become a fan favorite after transferring from Marquette ahead of last season.

After suffering a tragic loss that cut her junior year short, Taylor has put it all together in 2022-23 and has been a key contributor over the Cavaliers’ 12-1 start.

Taylor plays every second she’s on the floor with a fire and a passion that is contagious among her teammates. When she gets going, the team gets going.

Sometimes that added intensity can get her in trouble, like last week when she picked up a technical against Duke for celebrating after blocking a shot out of bounds.

That’s not a knock against Taylor. She was simply fired up about making a big play as the Cavaliers were in the midst of a comeback at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the technical squashed some of the momentum as UVA ended up losing its first game of the season.

“It was off-rhythm and we were kind of making a run right there,” Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said of the technical. “But Duke punched back too, that’s what happened, and we punched, got on a roll and then they punched back and opened it up again.”

Still, Taylor has been as solid of a contributor as a coach could ask for on both ends of the floor all season, as she ranks second on the team in both scoring (12.5 points per game) and rebounding (6.1 rpg), while also leading the team in blocks (1.2 bpg).

All the way back in October at ACC Tip Off in Charlotte, Taylor had visions of success for this year’s team.

“I think I’m most excited about how we all are just going to come in and just dominate,” she said. “I really want to dominate this year.”

Taylor did just that to begin the season, finishing with a double-double in the opener against George Washington (22 points and 13 rebounds). She scored in double figures in six of the Cavaliers’ first seven games.

The emergence of junior forward Mir McLean, who has scored in double figures in seven games in a row and nine of her last 10, has carved into Taylor’s overall production.

That should continue to open things up even more for Taylor, however, who has only scored 10-plus twice across her last six games.

Although she’s struggled a little with her shot lately, Taylor is always looking for other ways to contribute, whether it’s on the glass, on the defensive end, diving for a loose ball or making the extra pass.

Taylor lost her mother after a long bout with cancer last season, which caused her to temporarily put basketball on hold. After rejoining the team in the offseason and building a strong relationship with Coach Mox, Taylor is prepared for any challenge that comes her way.

“Coach Mox has definitely brought in just this culture of togetherness and family-oriented, being able to talk to people or being able to come to you on a personal level, but also as a student to the game,” Taylor explained. “So it’s just really important for all of us, and I think we’ve just exuded all this energy into our culture, and just pretty much just buying in and being ready. And I think that’s all gonna come to fruition this season.

“Obviously, everybody’s gonna have their ups and downs, but every single day, we’re coming in with a different mentality of being able to get better.”

With a tough ACC schedule on the horizon, including matchups against ranked opponents in three of their next four games, Taylor and the Cavaliers have a chance to put UVA women’s basketball back on the map.

“I think we all have that chip on our shoulder that we just want to prove to everybody what we can be,” said Taylor. “I think we all kind of see that we all envision that.”

The ‘Hoos return to the floor tonight at JPJ against Georgia Tech (7 p.m., ACCNX).

Scott Ratcliffe

Scott Ratcliffe has worked as a freelance writer for several publications over the past decade-plus, with a concentration on local and college sports. He is also a writer and editor for his father’s website, JerryRatcliffe.com, dedicated to the coverage of University of Virginia athletics.