Taylor Westgate Signs With Taylor University

Posted on December 4, 2019 in Girl's Basketball, Winter Sports

By CHUCK LANDIS – clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
Taylor Westgate made her decision months earlier, but last week the Oak Hill girls’ basketball standout made it official and signed to play for Taylor University’s nationally-ranked NAIA program.

“It’s been super awesome. I’ve really enjoyed the recruiting process, and going to Taylor and playing college basketball has been one of my biggest dreams,” Westgate said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m really excited.”

Westgate, a 6-foot-1 post player, had been Taylor head coach Jody Martinez’ top recruiting priority for more than a year and she puts a perfect bow on his 2020-21 class. Westgate turned down offers from NCAA Division I IUPUI, Purdue-Fort Wayne and Eastern Illinois to play for the Trojans.

“That’s just a great reflection on Taylor University for a player of Taylor’s skill level to choose Taylor over Division I schools,” Martinez said. “Huge positive momentum for the program and the school.”

A four-year starter, Westgate helped lead the Golden Eagles to the Class 2A girls’ basketball state championship last February and gained all-state honors. Westgate was among 24 players selected for the Indiana All-Stars Juniors program last summer, and is a top candidate for the senior stars in 2020.

Noted for her great strength and inside moves, Martinez said he envisions Westgate expanding her game at the collegiate level and becoming a successful outside shooter.

“The way she plays fits our system so well,” Martinez said. “She’s so good and one of the best post players in the state. I thought she had a great AAU season last summer and she got some DI offers.

“I thought maybe there would be a chance we would not get her just because of the financial aid,” he continued. “I just felt like our culture at Taylor was what she was looking for, and that’s why I thought we had a chance.”

Westgate, though, had followed Taylor while growing up and attending basketball camps there. Taylor was an ideal fit for athletics and academics for Westgate, who plans to major in exercise science and become a physical therapist.

“(Taylor) definitely had been one of my top choices,” she said. “It was a hard decision and I put a lot of prayer and thought into it. I just knew that was the place I needed to go.”

Westgate joins a Taylor women’s basketball program with one of the longest pedigrees at any collegiate level, but is currently having some of its greatest success. The Trojans are 9-0, ranked No. 15 in NAIA Division II, and have won 31 consecutive regular season games dating back to Dec. 1, 2018. The Trojans also maded their first-ever appearance in the round of eight at the NAIA national tourney last spring.

“They’re a really great program,” Westgate said of Taylor. “They’ve definitely gotten better every year and have a great coach. I love the players there and I really love the school and Christian atmosphere.

“I’m ready to do whatever (Martinez) wants me to do, whether that’s to be out there playing and being a leader or sit on the bench and cheer the team on,” she added.

Westgate said she has been working on further developing her game to get ready for the college level.

“I’m definitely working on my perimeter and my shot, so I can extend my range,” she said. “That is my main goal this year, and becoming more of a leader, too.”

Besides Westgate, Martinez said he has received committments for 2020-21 from Claycee West, a guard from White Pigeon, Michigan, and Noelle Lavery, a 5-11 forward from Rockford, Illinois.

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