Nov. 23—Ten years ago, on Nov. 20, 2012, Jack Taylor, a basketball player from Black River Falls, WI, made history at Grinnell College with a record-breaking 138-point performance.
In a game against Faith Baptist Bible College, Taylor, a sophomore at the time in his third game in a Grinnell College uniform, attempted 108 shots and made 52 of them, scoring 138 points and shattering the NCAA record of 116 points set in 1954. Grinnell defeated Faith Baptist 179-104 that day.
Taylor said from a young age growing up in Black River Falls, WI, basketball became his whole life.
"I for whatever reason just fell head over heels in love with the game of basketball," Taylor said.
Taylor's childhood hero was Kobe Bryant. He covered his bedroom walls with pictures of Bryant and signed his name as "Kobe" on papers at school when he was young. He wore Bryant's number, 24, in high school at Black River Falls.
"I identified with this love and drive for the game," Taylor said.
In his time at Black River Falls High School, Taylor was named Coulee Conference Player of the Year twice, named first team all-state twice and was a McDonald's All-American nominee his senior year.
After high school, Taylor tore his ACL, a "really tough moment," that Taylor said ended his hopes of earning a Division I scholarship.
He played his first year of college basketball at UW-La Crosse, but after one season he decided he needed a change.
"I was at the point where I wasn't enjoying the game of basketball much," Taylor said.
Taylor decided to transfer to Grinnell College, a private school in Grinnell, Iowa, because he was intrigued by their style of play, which came to be known as the "Grinnell System."
The Grinnell System involved a fast-paced, run-and-gun style that emphasized the three-point shot, which Taylor said was always the strength of his game.
"Being a shooter from little Black River Falls, I was really curious to see how my scoring ability would translate into the Grinnell system."
In Taylor's third game at Grinnell, on Nov. 20, 2012, he had his record-breaking 138-point performance.
Taylor said he knew he was hot in the first half, but had no idea how many points he had scored. He was guessing he had around 30.
His coach walked in at halftime with a box score and announced to the locker room that Taylor had scored 58 points in the first half.
Taylor said everyone in the locker room got energized and wanted to see Taylor attempt to make history in the second half.
"In the second half, the team rallied around me and said, 'Hey, we're getting Jack the ball every single time down the floor,'" Taylor said.
Taylor said he shot almost every time down the floor in the second half, as his teammates continued to feed him the ball.
"Without my teammates and my coaches this record really would not have been possible," Taylor said. "They really rallied around me and that's how it was possible."
The most special moment in the game came towards the end of the second half, Taylor said, when he made seven three-pointers in a row to end the game.
"The whole gymnasium was going nuts, our whole bench was going nuts," Taylor said. "That was the icing on the cake to that crazy game."
Taylor's final stat line was 138 points on 52-108 shooting, including 27-71 on three-pointers.
Following the record-breaking performance, Taylor was discussed on the news world-wide and made several television appearances, including Sportscenter, The Dan Patrick Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
"For a small town kid from little Black River Falls, Wisconsin, being thrown into the media spotlight was a little intimidating, but ultimately I had a lot of fun with it because I knew it was going to be a once in a lifetime moment," Taylor said. "I wasn't an NBA-caliber guy where I knew that this would happen again, so I tried to enjoy it."
Taylor even got shouted-out by several NBA stars for his performance, including LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Taylor's childhood hero Bryant.
"It kind of brings this story full circle from the beginning. I was this small town kid with big dreams who absolutely loved Kobe Bryant," Taylor said. "For Kobe to speak highly of the game, it just brought my whole basketball career full circle."
The next season, Taylor scored 109 points in a single game, which was the third-highest scoring total of all time.
After his three seasons at Grinnell, Taylor earned an NBA G-league tryout and an overseas tryout in Europe, but instead of continuing to pursue his basketball dream, Taylor chose to move on.
"What I kind of realized is that I could play at a lower level professionally. Not play in front of packed gyms and probably not have big contracts," Taylor said. "But I made the decision to step away from the game because I was ready to tackle new challenges."
Today, Taylor owns his own video business, Taylor Media, and creates videos for social media, businesses and events. He is also the co-host of the television show Discover Wisconsin, which sends him around the state to feature different areas of Wisconsin and experience their culture.
He said that now, in his home of Black River Falls, he is known as the "video guy" instead of the "basketball guy," which makes him happy.
"It's not something that comes up every day," Taylor said of his basketball career. "But in a sense, I think it does continue to push me. Because ultimately, my basketball career was somewhat special, so it pushes and motivates me to make the rest of my life special as well."