NORTH AUGUSTA — Calvin Taylor had always been the one watching from afar, seeing older players on the benches and on the courts at the Peach Jam.
But now his turn has arrived.
The rising junior center at Augusta Christian is playing for the Southern Stampede as part of the Nike Peach Jam’s Sweet 16 Invitational Tournament at North Augusta’s Riverview Park Activities Center.
In Wednesday’s 79-61 loss to the King James Shooting Stars, Taylor played a couple of minutes in each half, with his mother among those watching.
“It’s been an honor, and it’s been fun playing in it,” Taylor said about the Peach Jam. “I grew up watching it, and I always wanted to be in it – so it’s kind of weird; it feels like time flew by, because I can just remember, being 6 years old and being here watching people play.”
Listed at 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds, Taylor used his size to help clear out space for shooters and provide a defensive presence in Wednesday’s game.
A year ago, the Southern Stampede had Aquinas players Ahmed Hill and Michael Scott on the roster as they reached the championship game for the 16U portion of the Peach Jam.
This year, Taylor, who’s from South Carolina and previously attended Blackville-Hilda, is the lone local player in the event. He is also on the Lions football team, where he’s listed as a lineman. The Lions won the SCISA Class AAA state title this past season.
Southern Stampede coach Patrick Harper thinks Taylor’s football work will make him better, especially with his quickness.
Though Taylor’s a little raw, Harper believes Taylor might even be a player at next year’s EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam in the 17U competition.
“It’s a good opportunity for him to be here in the Peach Jam, getting that experience,” Harper said. “He has a lot of potential. As he continues to get a lot more game experience and more workouts and training, next year, I think he’ll definitely be a force. We’ll be preparing him. By playing him, it will help him.
“He’s a good kid; we’re glad to have him. He’s the local kid, so it’s a good opportunity for him.”