If you want to beat Taylor Will at something, forget basketball. Try ‘‘Scrabble.’’
‘‘Taylor is the ultimate competitor,’’ Prospect coach Ashley Graham said. ‘‘She brings an intensity to practice and games unlike any player I have ever coached. She is going to go very far in life because of her work ethic and relentless attitude.’’
That ‘‘relentless attitude’’ had its roots in Will’s childhood when she would play board games like checkers and Blokus with her father.
‘‘There was always that mentality that ‘I play to win,’ so I would always know that if I ever beat him it was for real,’’ she said. ‘‘I think I just carried that out into everything else. I beat him pretty consistently at Blokus, but he beats me at Scrabble all the time. It’s really hard to win.’’
Winning has come easier on the basketball floor than at Scrabble for the 5-foot-11 senior, who averaged nearly 20 points and better than five rebounds per game for the Knights last year when Prospect went 23-6. Nature and nurture probably play some role.
‘‘Basketball has been in my family for a very long time,’’ Will said. ‘‘My uncle played at Oral Roberts back in the day. My mom grew up in Iowa and played six-on-six. My dad played at Arlington. They both played intramurals in college. So it’s always been a huge thing in our family.’’
The tie between family and basketball is made even stronger on the court by the presence of Will’s younger sister, Haley, a 5-10 sophomore point guard.
‘‘It’s funny,’’ Will said. ‘‘Sometimes we’ll have a little fight after school, but right when we get to basketball practice we’re immediate friends again. I feel that basketball solves all our problems. We both have the mindset that we’re here for the team. Whatever we walk in with, we just set aside.’’
Haley and the rest of the Will family, which includes a younger sister in fifth grade who occasionally serves as the team’s water girl, were on hand to watch Taylor make history earlier this season when she became the school’s all-time leading scorer with her 1,353rd career point.
Afterward, Will gave all the credit to her sister and her teammates.
‘‘Taylor is extremely humble and is first and foremost concerned with the team and achieving our team goals,’’ Graham said.
‘‘Accomplishing what she has is remarkable. I am excited to see where this season takes her and our team.’’
Next season will take Will to Brown University, an Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island.
‘‘It’s a great school, so that was a huge plus,’’ Will said. ‘‘I really felt like I was walking into a family. That was important since it’s so far away from home.’’
‘‘They sky is the limit for her,’’ Graham said.
As long as she keeps that Scrabble thing to herself.