Western men’s basketball senior guard Taylor Stafford is coming off a redshirt season after transferring from Division I’s University of Evansville. Before playing at Evansville, he played two seasons at Eastern Arizona College, earning third-team All-American honors both seasons at the junior college. Stafford was named to the 2016-17 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Preseason All-Conference Team. Get to know Stafford on and off the court.
Q: Shoot or pass first?
A: My mentality is to take what the defense gives me, but usually I’m thinking pass first. I try to be selfless on the court, and I try to tell my teammates that I’m selfless. I try to involve them more. Sometimes I have an open shot and I pass it, and then my coach says I should have shot that.
Q: How was redshirting last year?
A: It was good for the most part. I got to sit down and do a self-evaluation. I had to figure out the wrong things I did and the right things I did [prior to coming to Western]. Expand on the right and the good and put the negative behind me. And I got to work super hard. A lot of people in the [Wade King Student Recreation Center] know me because I’m always in there, I’m always working out, especially this past summer. I just put an emphasis on working out and making sacrifices because if this is what I want to do, I have to be all the way in. It was a good process, and I’m glad God blessed me with it because we all have to sit down sometimes and figure out what the situation is that you’re sitting down for.
Q: After being ranked second in the GNAC Preseason Poll, do you think your team should be rated higher?
A: I’m one of those people that say what’s meant to be will be. I see it as adding fuel to the fire. I already play with a chip on my shoulder, so I feel like all my teammates now have that chip on their shoulders. But we do have a lot of new guys that they haven’t seen play, so second could be a good thing.
Q: Which player in the NBA is your play style like?
A: Isaiah Thomas or Derrick Rose.
Q: Favorite NBA team?
A: Chicago Bulls, but Derrick Rose just got traded to the New York Knicks, so I got two favorite teams.
Q: What sport would you play if you weren’t playing basketball?
A: It would be soccer. Throughout this past summer, I got to know some people who play soccer. They taught me the game. Now, when I go watch the game it’s very different. I’m a fan of it now.
Q: What’s the background of your phone right now?
A: The lock screen is my nephew. My sister just had a baby and he’s about 7 months old. My home screen is me because that’s all I got at the end of the day, so why not?
Q: Favorite food?
A: I’m a vegetarian, so I had a mushroom portobello burger the other day and that was amazing.
Q: When did you become a vegetarian and why?
A: This time last year. My brother, Ricardo [Maxwell], was on the team last year and he stopped eating beef and pork. We talked about it and then I said, “OK, I’ll do it.” And then I started doing research as the weeks and days passed by, and I just found out the good things about going vegetarian and the bad things about eating meat and the hormones that are put into animals. I just educated myself. To be honest, it really helped me. My body feels amazing. When I get injured my recovery is quicker.
Q: What would be the one food you would go back to eating meat for, if there was one?
A: My diet is Monday through Friday I’m a vegetarian, but on the weekends, I eat chicken. Chicken or fish. But if I could go back to eating beef or pork, I would probably have my grandma’s ribs. They’re so good, they just fall off the bone.
Q: Favorite holiday?
A: Mother’s Day. I show my mom and my grandma how much I appreciate them, but I really get to show them on that day. I just try to let them know that it’s their day, and I really appreciate them from the bottom of my heart. I wouldn’t be here without my mom.
Q: Who’s the funniest player on the team?
A: I would say myself. I know how to make a lot of people laugh on the team. I just say little side comments that are funny. Like Logan [Schilder] showed us his freshman year of high school ID and I told him he looked like a jelly bean. Everybody thought it was funny.
Q: Hot or cold weather?
A: I prefer cold. I like the heat for a certain amount of time; not all the time. I dealt with Arizona heat. Some days it was very frustrating, so I like the balance of it. And in the winter, you can dress super fly. You could wear a hoodie with a coat over, some black jeans, some Timberlands; you’d be smooth.
Q: What’s your style?
A: My go to would be all black. I’d probably wear a black jacket, black t-shirt under, a hat on, black jeans and probably some Jordans. I got a lot of Air Jordans.
Q: Favorite Jordan shoe?
A: The retro 6. I got a couple pairs of those.
Q: Pre-game music?
A: I’m listening to Kevin Gates all day, every day. Before the game he gets me locked in with that mentality to just go get it.
Q: How far do you think this team will go?
A: Personally, I really don’t have expectations with anything I do. But the sky’s the limit for us. We’ve got so much talent that we could go undefeated, but the camaraderie has to be there and other intangibles. But I see us going all the way.