Courtesy: Minneapolis StarTribune
By Kent Youngblood
Vince Taylor, who came to Minnesota to work on Dwane Casey's Timberwolves staff, will become the third assistant coach hired by Tubby Smith at the University of Minnesota, Taylor confirmed Thursday.
University officials would not confirm that an offer had been made to Taylor. A news conference to announce Smith's staff is not expected until the new coach hires all four staff members, including a director of basketball operations.
Taylor, a Kentucky native, was on Casey's first staff and just completed his second season as assistant coach/player development with the Timberwolves.
"I've known Tubby for years," Taylor said. "My parents live in Lexington and they've known him for a long time, too. I've always respected him as a coach and things just fell into place.
"When he offered me the opportunity, I really had to think about it. I also had some other college opportunities. I like it here at the Wolves, but I'm excited to get back into college [coaching]. That's where I spent the majority of my career."
Before coming to Minnesota, Taylor spent seven seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville, four under Rick Pitino. He also had brief assistant coaching stints at Pittsburgh and the University of Wyoming.
"One thing I remember Coach Pitino saying before I left; that one year as a coach in the pros is like a two or three in college," Taylor said. "It's just all x's and o's. It's just basketball stuff. I'm better now than when I left Louisville. I've learned a lot here."
Taylor was an All-Atlantic Coast Conference player at Duke and was drafted by the New York Knicks in 1982. Taylor played one season with the Knicks before spending 13 seasons playing professionally in Europe, the last two as a player-coach in Belgium.
But he figures his experience as an NBA assistant will be a benefit to his recruiting for the Gophers.
"I'll be able to sell that," Taylor said. "I know what it takes to get to the NBA."
Timberwolves coach Randy Wittman -- who took over when Casey was fired midway through last season -- said he supports Taylor's move.
"It's a good opportunity for him," Wittman said. "He has a background at the college level and it's something he always enjoyed. It's like I tell all the guys who work for me: If a better opportunity comes along, I have to let these guys advance."
Taylor said he likes it in the Twin Cities and has a son in school here. "It was a preemptive thing. Randy [Wittman] said I'd be back here. But I felt like I had an opportunity where I'd have some stability. That's just logical. I'm a father and I like it here."
Taylor joins Ron Jirsa and Tubby Smith's son, Saul, who were hired as assistants earlier, and he says he's ready to get started recruiting.
"I coached at Louisville and have been a part of some great recruiting classes," Taylor said. "All the coaches are going to be out there [recruiting]. This year and next year is crucial to getting the program turned around."
Staff writer Dennis Brackin contributed to this report.