By Mark Jurgena
The accolades for the 2019-20 edition of the Collinsville boys basketball team continue to roll in as March progresses.
Three Kahoks, Ray’Sean Taylor, Cawhan Smith and Keydrian Jones have all been named to all-state teams.
Taylor, a 6-1 senior, was named 1st team all-state by the Associated Press, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association.
“He did some things that we haven’t had at Collinsville, a consensus all-stater, since Richard Kenne, so that’s been twenty years. Like I’ve said before he’s a once in a generation player. His game…he scored but he also rebounded the ball and defended and was a good passer. His game was all around, that’s what made him a special player,” said Collinsville coach Darin Lee.
After his junior season, Taylor was named honorable mention all-state by the Associated Press.
Taylor had a monster senior season. He broke the career scoring record of 2,041 by Tom Parker in 1968. The new Kahok record stands at 2,167.
He also broke Parker’s single game scoring record of 50 set in December of 1967. In this year’s title game of the Chick-fil-a Belleville East Tournament he scored 53 points against St. Louis Trinity.
According to Collinsville stat man Dan Hartwig, Taylor also set a Kahok career record for field goal attempts with 1,542, beating Parker’s old mark of 1,520.
He also finished second in games played at 120 and third in steals with 231.
Lee has been studying game film recently from the last few years of Kahok basketball and commented on the improvement Taylor made throughout his career.
“He got better, he got bigger. He grew, got stronger physically and I think he became a better defender. He’s always been a scorer; a finisher around the basket but I think weight room strength helped him in that manner because he drew a lot more attention as a senior. He had to expand his game to distribute the ball when he was getting double teamed or getting combination defenses,” said Lee.
As great as Taylor’s career at Collinsville was, Lee offered some profound thoughts on what his career would’ve been without Smith and Jones, his fellow all-state running mates.
“If we were .500, I don’t think he’s a first team all-stater. Say you don’t have Skeet to help handle the ball to take multiple responsibilities off of him and you’ve got to have a post player that can defend, rebound and score some if you’re going to compete at our level. Without those guys I don’t think our team has the success you need to reach all-state status. They definitely had a big impact on him,” he said.
Smith was named a Special Mention all-stater by the IBCA.
“He’s very quick, I guess the quickest player I’ve had, either him or Ray, take your pick,” said Lee, a class of 2011 IBCA Hall of Fame coach. “He would just harass the ball so much. Anybody who wasn’t an elite ball handler had a lot of trouble with him. Even if they were an elite ball handler then he made it tough on them to do anything. Anybody that was average he was going to take it from them a few times a game.”
Smith hit two game winning threes (against O’Fallon and St. Louis DeSmet) this past season and finished second in career steals with 237. He also ranks both second and third in the single season steals category at CHS.
Lee provided more insight into the two game winning triples.
“You could tell watching the video that he wanted it. A lot of that is thinking you’re going to make it. He knew that he was open because his man was helping off on Ray and he knew Ray was going to find him. Just that confidence that he was going to knock that shot down and he did it in both instances. Both for winners,” he said.
Jones was also named a Special Mention all-stater by the IBCA.
“The thing about KJ is his work ethic. To become a player he lost weight. He’s probably 30 lbs. lighter as a senior than he was as a sophomore and he can really run the floor. His defense was good at the end of the year, everybody’s defense was good at the end. Then he became a scoring force for us in the postseason. That’s one of the reasons we were playing so well,” Lee said.
In his last six games, Jones was in double figures in scoring each time and recorded a double-double against Belleville East and Granite City.
“(We were) just getting him touches every time down when he is in the game, because sometimes he gets banging and gets into foul trouble. We just were really making sure he got touches every time down. That and he just started finishing better. That’s something you just continue to work, your footwork, your touch just gets better toward the end of the year,” said Lee.
Coach Lee also indicated he was on pace to score 1,000 career points had the Kahoks made it to the state tournament. He finished his CHS career with 956 points.
He finished his career first in games played with 121 and in the career top ten lists for most rebounds, most defensive rebounds, most offensive rebounds and most blocks.