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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Tigers Adding Transfer Shawn Taggart from Iowa State

Tigers adding transfer

By Gary Parrish, Memphis Commercial Appeal
May 5, 2006

He's seen the campus and the Finch Center. He knows the coaching staff and most of the players. So for Shawn Taggart, today's visit to the University of Memphis will serve as little more than a formality because he's already decided to transfer from Iowa State and into John Calipari's basketball program. "I can't wait to get there because I'm going to make it official as soon as I get off the airplane," Taggart told The Commercial Appeal by cell phone Thursday. "I'm transferring to Memphis."

A 6-10 forward, Taggart averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds as a freshman, but he decided to transfer when Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan was fired in the wake of Gregg Doyel's report at that detailed the school's dealings with a shady scheduling company founded by a California junior college coach. Taggart finished his final class at ISU on Thursday morning and said he plans to enroll in classes at Memphis this summer. Per NCAA rules, Taggart will sit out next season -- though he will be allowed to practice with the Tigers -- and be eligible for the 2007-08 campaign with three years of eligibility remaining.

"I know a lot of people don't want to do a redshirt year, but I think it's going to make me more mature and better," said Taggart, who cited his relationship with Tigers assistant Derek Kellogg as one reason he's transferring to Memphis. "It's going to be a beautiful thing for me."

Taggart originally visited the UofM in September 2004 and was a major target for the Tigers considering he was tagged as the 24th-best prospect in the nation by The Hoop Scoop. But the Mt. Zion Academy product ultimately chose Iowa State over Memphis thanks mostly to his connection with Tasheed Carr, a former teammate at Mt. Zion who was already a Cyclone but is now also transferring out of ISU.

"It was very close (in 2004) between Iowa State and Memphis, like a coin toss," Taggart said. "I'm not going to tell a lie. I didn't choose Memphis (in 2004) because Tasheed Carr was at Iowa State. I was a young boy coming up, and one of my old players I had played with was telling me he was going to pass me the ball and all that kind of stuff. What would you choose? But now I've realized that what I did wasn't the best thing for me."

Though Taggart's freshman campaign was unspectacular, there is an explanation for his slow adjustment. Prior to the season the Richmond, Va., native endured a lengthy battle with a serious stomach virus that caused him to miss a portion of the preseason and lose close to 30 pounds, something from which he said he did not properly recover.

"It was a bad year, but I feel like all the bad times are finally behind me," Taggart said. "Now I'm looking to the future, and I'm just ready to play ball."

-- Gary Parrish: 529-2365

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