RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Who knows what kind of career Corey Taylor would have enjoyed as a member of the University of Rio Grande men’s basketball program had his life not been cut short by an automobile accident on Christmas night in 2008.
What did become obvious in his short time on the URG campus was a desire and drive to become the best player he could possibly be.
“Corey played hard, with the attributes that we put on the name of the award itself, and this is a way in which we can honor him,” said Rio Grande head coach Ken French. “His loss hit us hard. I’m just happy that we’re able to recognize people in our program who show a lot of the same characteristics that Corey had and that his family is still a part of our Rio family.”
Sophomore Travis Elliott was presented with the 4th Annual Corey Taylor Heart and Hustle Award prior to the RedStorm’s game against Bluefield (Va.) College, last Thursday, at the Newt Oliver Arena.
“We’re very fortunate in that we’ve got a lot of great individuals on this team, character-wise, but Travis really embodies everything that this award is about,” French said. “It’s about heart and hustle -going above and beyond in dedication to the program - and Travis is a well-deserving recipient. We always say that you get what you earn and he’s earned this. I’m sure it was a great night for him.”
With his former high school team and various family members looking on, the Ironton, Ohio native made his first varsity start and finished with nine points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists in just over 23 minutes of playing time.
“I just do what I can and try to play to the best of my ability,” he said. “Honestly, I learned that from my hometown and my family. I just try to give my all and see what happens - that’s all I can do.”
Elliott, who spent his entire freshman season on the Rio junior varsity squad, began the 2012-13 season with the RedStorm JV team.
After an outstanding season at the junior varsity level - he averaged 30 points per game - he’s become someone that French calls on off the bench with regularity.
“One of the Achilles of our team this year has been consistency - knowing what you’re getting from everybody every night. That’s not an issue with Travis,” French said. “Day in, day out, game or practice, he’s someone who brings it every day. He plays with a high level of passion and energy and he’s very team-oriented. Those are things we’re trying to establish throughout our program.”
Heading into this weekend’s home games against St. Catharine College and Georgetown College, Elliott has appeared in 13 games and averages 3.7 points and 1.6 rebounds per outing.
The 6-foot-2 guard is shooting 52.9 percent from the field overall (18-for-34) and is 4-for-10 from three-point range. He also has seven steals and seven assists.
Taylor’s father, Randy, made the presentation to Elliott.
“I saw Corey play - his brother actually played at Ironton, where I went to school, when he was playing for South Point. He hustled his butt off when he played and it means a lot to me to think somebody feels that I play the same way,” Elliott said. “It’s touching.”
French said the award - and its recipients - are a product of hard work paying off.
“I’m sure Travis looks at receiving this award with a great sense of accomplishment - and he should,” French said. “He’s worked hard and he’s become an integral part of our team.”