Texas Longhorns head coach head coach Shaka Smart will have to replace the team's catalyst from the 2015-16 season, as junior point guard Isaiah Taylor announced on Instagram that he will hire an agent and therefore forgo his final season of eligibility.
"I've been chasing my dream to play in the NBA my entire life," Taylor wrote. " In order to fully pursue this dream, I have made the decision now to hire an agent and turn professional. While I am sad to be leaving my teammates and family behind at Texas, I am ready to start his next chapter of my career. Thank you to all the fans that have supported me these past there years. You have made me feel at home.
"Coach Smart, I learned so much from you in such a short period of time and you will continue to be a role model for me. Love you coach.
"These next two months are going to be intense, but I'm ready for it. Follow along my journey as I prepare for this next step in my career.
"Thanks again to all the fans here in Austin, Hook 'em Horns."
Smart also released a statement about Taylor's departure through the school.
"We are extremely grateful for the impact Isaiah has made during his time at Texas," Smart said. "I truly enjoyed coaching him this past season and will support him wholeheartedly as he moves into this next stage of his career."
When Taylor initially declared for the draft in early April, there was some hope that he would still return because new rules allow players to work out at the NBA Combine and participate in one team tryout without forfeiting eligibility. However, it seems that the team's leading scorer decided that the risk of not having an agent and missing out on the NBA Combine invite or workouts was too great of a risk to take. And perhaps even realized that he did not truly intend to return to college.
Taylor dealt with a plantar fasciitis injury at the end of the season that limited his effectiveness at times, but still turned in an outstanding season, leading the team in scoring (15.0) and assists (5.0). His 2.67 assist-to-turnover rate was good enough to finish third on the school's all-time single-season list.
Getting drafted is hardly a lock for Taylor due to continued concerns about his jump shot, but NBADraft.net lists him at No. 45 on the site's Big Board. Draft Express, however, places him at No. 65 among the top-100 prospects, meaning that he will almost certainly have to play overseas or in the NBDL before having a shot in the Association, if he ever truly gets one. ESPN's Chad Ford has an even less favorable impression of the 6'3, 185-pounder, ranking him No. 156 overall.
However, as much as some Longhorns fans may begrudge Taylor this decision, it's easy to make those judgements when not faced with the decision of giving up guaranteed income for a year to play for free. So best of luck to Taylor with his professional future.