There are countless athletes that have come through the University of Wisconsin over the years to play for the Badgers. We have seen many of them grow to be stars in Madison. They have become celebrities on campus and in the state of Wisconsin (and sometimes beyond), yet their time here always comes to an end.
Life beyond the NCAA will sometimes mean the NBA, NFL or the NHL for some of these athletes, but for the vast majority of them, that is not the case. Being a professional athlete does not always entail playing for one of North America’s top leagues. In fact, many players from the NCAA and Wisconsin in particular end up playing overseas in Europe and Asia.
This can be a very rewarding experience in terms of both playing time and financial incentives. It can be a great opportunity for players who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and take their talents abroad.
One of these former Badgers abroad is Jordan Taylor, a point guard for Wisconsin from 2008-12 who helped them reach at least the second round in all four of his years and the Sweet Sixteen in his final two seasons.
He was named a consensus 2nd team All-American during the 2011 season and received 1st team All-Big Ten as well that year. He was widely recognized as one of the top guards in college basketball during his time at Wisconsin, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Despite his success in college, making it to the NBA proved to be too big of a step up for Taylor, as he went undrafted and ended up signing with Virus Roma of the Italian League in August 2012, where he teamed up with former Big Ten rival Trevor Mbakwe of the Minnesota Gophers. Despite being rivals in the Big Ten, Mbakwe and Taylor became friends while playing abroad and ended up playing very well with each other.
Taylor played for them until 2014, when he came back to the United States in an attempt to try out for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA. Having played in Wisconsin for four years in college, Taylor thought this would be a good fit for him and that he might be ready for the task after having played two years of pro basketball overseas.
Taylor played for their Summer League team in Las Vegas that summer, but was unable to make the team and he ended up signing with Hapoel Holon in Israel. He averaged more than 11 points, four assists, and one steal in each of his two seasons there as the starting point guard. Hapoel Holon made it to the round of 16 in the playoffs in each of his seasons there.
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The following August, Taylor signed with Alba Berlin in Germany and had his most successful season as a pro basketball player. He averaged 12 points per game and won the German Cup.
He played there for one season before returning to Hapoel Holon for a third stint. After the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, he signed with the Turkish club Galatasaray, where he currently plays.
This has been quite a ride for Taylor and likely not what he had expected, but he has proven himself to be a versatile player that can thrive in a variety of different basketball and cultural situations. This goes to show how tough he is, something that his head coach Bo Ryan would be proud of.
Taylor is a great example of all of the unique possibilities that lie ahead for former Badger athletes. He made his own path and is having an exciting journey in both basketball and life.