Taylor Schildroth had a busy Tuesday planned between summer school, study hall, strength training and his basketball workout.
That regimen, routine for a Division I college athlete, is just what Schildroth had sought since he began lighting up gymnasiums around Eastern Maine as a high-scoring guard at George Stevens Academy in his hometown of Blue Hill.
Schildroth’s resume seemed impressive enough even before he left for an extra year of seasoning at a Florida prep school — he was a finalist for both the 2018 Mr. Maine Basketball and Maine Gatorade Player of the Year awards, and a three-time Bangor Daily News All-Maine choice who had led GSA to three consecutive Class C state championships.
But all that preparation for a college basketball future was sidetracked last fall when Schildroth left The Nation Christian Academy in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the day after learning of his coach’s profanity-filled tirade toward one of his teammates — a rant that drew nationwide attention via social media.
Schildroth left that school and eventually returned home to enroll at the University of Maine, where he took five classes in spring and pondered his basketball future while watching a few men’s basketball home games as a spectator.
Now he’s all the way back to his desired schedule of books and basketball at UMaine after accepting an offer from Black Bears head coach Richard Barron to join his team as a nonscholarship player.
“I’m just really excited and blessed that coach Barron and his staff have given me this opportunity,” Schildroth said. “Obviously I’ve wanted to play here for a long time. I went to a couple of different prep schools last year, and now it’s kind of come around full circle, but I think it’s worked out for the best because in the end I was able to grow and mature for a year without losing any eligibility.”
Schildroth and Precious Okoh, a 6-foot guard from Brockton, Massachusetts, were introduced Tuesday as the latest additions to the Black Bears’ 2019-20 roster.
“We are very excited to welcome Precious and Taylor to our program,” Barron said. “Both players have shown great scoring ability at the high school level. They are tough competitors with deep shooting range.”
While Okoh took a fairly traditional route to UMaine through Brockton High School and Bradford Christian Academy in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he averaged 19.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last winter, Schildroth’s path to his college basketball destination proved more circuitous — though not of his own doing.
Schildroth joined the George Stevens varsity as a freshman, and a year later he and the Eagles took off, compiling a 64-2 record between 2016 and 2018.
Schildroth, a 6-foot point guard, was the catalyst, particularly on offense where he averaged 26.0 points and 7.5 assists per game as a junior during the Eagles’ undefeated 2016-17 season, and 25.9 points and 6.1 assists as a senior — a season that included a school-record 61-point outburst during a Jan. 16, 2018, victory over Lee Academy.
That performance, during which Schildroth shot 20-of-36 from the field overall and 12 of 21 from beyond the 3-point arc, is believed to be the sixth-highest scoring performance in state history and most points by a Maine high school player in a game this century.
After graduating from GSA, Schildroth still was determined to play college basketball at the scholarship level so he reclassified as a senior at The Nation Christian Academy, run by Waterville native Mike “Woody” Woodbury, previously a longtime coaching presence on the Maine club basketball scene.
Schildroth enjoyed the quality of the basketball played at the Florida prep school, but that became moot once an audio clip became public on which Woodbury could be heard berating another player, Marvens Petion, for his decision to leave the school.
Schildroth briefly attended The Woodstock Academy in Connecticut, but by the start of the spring semester he was at the University of Maine — just not playing basketball.
“I think at that point after dealing with Florida and the whole scenario that went on down there I was ready to come home and focus on school for a bit,” he said.
He took five courses in the spring, and as the semester wore on he resumed basketball workouts.
“I really didn’t know if I was going to end up trying to play,” he said.
Schildroth ultimately was encouraged to attend summer school while continuing his basketball workouts with an eye toward eventually competing for a walk-on opportunity, but that timeline was accelerated with last Wednesday’s offer of a roster spot.
“They told me I was going to have to try out in the fall, so when they called me in last week that was a pretty big surprise,” he said. “I was pretty excited.”
So now Schildroth has the summer schedule he’s longed sought — classes, study halls, strength training sessions and basketball workouts — and the opportunity to play Division I basketball.
“I’m just here as a walk-on trying to help the team, push everyone in practice, better myself every day and try to help boost the team GPA,” said Schildroth, a business management major. “Then sometime down the road if an opportunity presented itself I’d be ready, but for right now I’m just focused on getting better and helping the team.”