The Iowa athlete’s historic accomplishment is still admired and criticized

There are those who would like to mark the 10th anniversary of Jack Taylor’s historic achievement with an asterisk, but it’s hard to deny the teamwork and talent it took to make it happen.

On November 20, 2012, the Grinnell basketball player scored an NCAA-record 138 points – alone – in one game. As ESPN reported, the likes of the legendary late Kobe Bryant and LeBron James stood in awe because they had never accomplished anything quite like this (plus, neither of them ever played in college). Jimmy Kimmel invited Taylor on his late-night show, and national networks and publications picked up the story.

Then, then naysayers emerged. Either because Grinnell is “just” a Division III school, or because of the grumbling that Taylor achieved his 138 points by seemingly monopolizing the game with the help and blessing of his coaches and teammates. In another game, Taylor single-handedly scored 109 points, but there’s a system at Grinnell where this “boosting the score” seems like a way of life, at least the typical strategy.

As the adrenaline rush of his performance wore off, the critics came out. The team he did it against was Faith Baptist Bible College, who were already on a 10-game losing streak.

One former Iowa basketball player even had a few choice words, according to ESPN DeAndre calling Kane Taylor’s efforts “weak.” All around, the ethics of the “Grinnell system” have been questioned in several quarters.

Ryan Kane, who was the coach at Ripon College when they also played Grinnell that season, told ESPN:

When they broke from their normal play to set a record and specifically singled out one player to try and score all the points against an underperforming opponent just to gain some notoriety, [it] probably raised some eyebrows in the industry

The record still stands and the result of the game still counts, but Taylor had to put basketball behind for a while because the notoriety (good and bad) seemed to get too overwhelming.

Taylor recently returned to his alma mater, where he was smuggled into an open gym to prank current players. Wearing a medical mask intended to disguise him and act as a precaution (remember COVID?), Taylor played alongside the current squad with his old coach David Arseneault Sr. in the stands. It was indeed an opportunity to bring back his “mojo” in front of a more appreciative group.

Taylor now runs a video production company in Wisconsin.

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