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Posted On: 03/9/18 7:00 AM
St. Petersburg 6-foot-2 guard Tai Strickland’s senior year has been another year of growth, and it’s growth that has taken him to the high major level of basketball recruiting.
Strickland has grown 11 inches since entering high school at 5-foot-3 at Tampa Catholic. A year ago Strickland scored 13.2 points per game playing with five star Kevin Knox – now at Kentucky – and now at St. Petersburg Strickland is flourishing in the backcourt along with Ole Miss bound Serrel Smith. The two of them have their team playing in the semi-finals tomorrow night.
“It’s definitely been a growing process,” Strickland told GI. “It’s my first year at St Pete and I’ve definitely had my most consistent and best year so far and i feel like I’ve gotten a lot better.”
Anyone that has seen Strickland compete would agree. Tai has saved his best performances for the biggest games. He had 23 in the Under Armour Holiday event title game and a triple double highlighted by 35 points when St. Pete secured the conference title. Strickland has put the time in and now as he ends his senior year things are paying off.
“It was just a matter of time,” Strickland recently said to the AJC. “I’ve been working to get to this point. I’ve been patient. For this to come on is just validating all the work that I’ve put in.”
Strickland described himself as a point guard that can play several different roles.
“I’m definitely just a do-it-all point guard. I lead the team. I make plays for others. I can score. And I definitely play defense and rebound, so I can do everything. There’s a lot of people that can score. But when you can score and then you’re doing everything on the opposite end, it really sets you apart from other people.”
Strickland’s continued progressions have led to a higher level of recruitment. Major conference offers have come in from South Florida, Boston College, Rutgers, and Wisconsin. Strickland will take an official visit to Madison in two weekends.
“I’m very excited for my visit to Wisconsin,” Strickland said. “On my visit I’m hoping to get a feel for the atmosphere and their campus, as well as meet some of the players.”
Minnesota is need of another ball handler for the 2018-19 season so the Gophers have been in contact with Tai for the past several weeks. Minnesota could be a nice fit for Strickland as he could play either guard position.
“I’ve talked to Coach Kimani Young often and he’ll be coming down here Friday to watch our final four game,” Strickland said. “It definitely would be a good fit. They run a lot of pick and roll and put the ball in their guard’s hands often. I’ve seen them play a lot. I feel like I could definitely help. The way they let Nate Mason run the offense was great.”
Minnesota and Wisconsin are two of the four Big Ten teams that are showing strong interest. There is still considerable time before Strickland expects to make a college decision.
“Maryland, Wisconsin, Rutgers and Minnesota are showing the most interest,” Strickland said. “I will make my decision probably (on) signing day. I’m looking for a coaching staff I’m comfortable with and a school I can see myself at for four years.”
Tai is the son of former NBA point guard Rod Strickland.