Sitting beside Thomas Robinson, senior guard Tyshawn Taylor embraced Thursdays Big 12 media day session. With each question directed his way, Taylor was sure to answer with a smile and a sense of appreciation. Much is expected of Taylor this season, and it appears he's ready meet those expectations, if not surpass them.
"So far, so good," said Taylor when asked about the start of practice. "I like how we look, but I think we've got a long way to go to get where we want to be, but I think we're taking the right steps."
For Taylor, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound guard from Hoboken, N.J., his role will undoubtedly change this season. Aside from being a playmaker and defensive stopper, Taylor is expected to emerge as KU's most vocal leader.
Obviously, Taylor will lead by example as well, but communicating with his teammates will be just as important this season.
"Definitely leading by example," said Taylor when asked what he learned most from last season with regards to his role as leader this season. "I'll try to be the hardest worker on the court at all times, so the guys that are looking up to me will follow.
"I think leading by example is a big thing," he added.
Being able to represent the University of Kansas and its men's basketball program at media day is a real honor for Taylor. Looking back two years ago, it's hard to imagine Taylor being in the position he is today.
Bill Self was forced to hold Taylor out of the lineup on a number of occasions and was openly critical of his senior guard at different times. Still, Taylor took full responsibility for his actions and didn't place the blame on anybody but himself.
"Definitely not," said Taylor when asked if he envisioned himself being where he is today early on in his career. "I wasn't really looking as far along two years ago and I didn't really know where I was going to be. Being here is just a blessing. I'm glad that I'm still able to be here and here to represent my University the best I can.
"I know that I have to be a leader and I know that they're (teammates) watching me," he added. "I know what it takes to win some games, and the other guys don't, so I just try to show them the things that I know and things that I've learned. I just want to be the best I can be as far as leading them (teammates)."
Having lost six players from last year's 35-3 squad, many questions remain unanswered when talking about the 2011-12 season. With practice less than a week old, Self's squad is still in the beginning stages of coming together.
It's early, but it sounds like big man Jeff Withey is turning some heads in practice. Recently, Self said Withey has the potential to be one of the top shot blockers in the Big 12.
On Thursday afternoon, Taylor spoke highly of the 7-foot-0, 235-pound center from San Diego, Calif.
"Withey looks good," said Taylor. "He's looking real good right now. I love playing with him and how he's looking. He's got a lot of energy and a lot of bounce. Its like he's ready to play and he knows he's going to have to play.
"I'm excited for Jeff," he added.