Back in a USA uniform for the first time since starting college, Long Islander Celeste Taylor is in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with Team USA playing in the FIBA 3×3 U23 Nations League. This is Taylor’s fourth time playing on a USA Basketball team, having previously earned three gold medals.
Taylor, 21, who starts her senior year at Duke University upon her return, has always thrived on the intensity and competitiveness of international play, and hopes to bring back new skills. It’s another opportunity to compete with and against some great players. While she’s played some 3×3 in practice, this is Taylor’s first time playing it competitively. It is quick and the coach is not on the court with the players.
“It is a lot faster and you have to shift gears quicker,” said Taylor. “It’s been really fun competing and learning new things. … You definitely have to understand the game a lot more for 3-on-3 because you have no coach and you have to learn to adjust to certain things on your own together as a team. … It’s a lot of reading and reacting and being able to communicate with your teammates.”
After two years at University of Texas, which included a trip to the 2021 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, Taylor made the decision to transfer to Duke, which has proven a good fit for her. She said when she gets an invitation to try out to compete for her country, she cannot turn it down.
“Any chance that I get to represent the USA for basketball is definitely cool and a very great experience,” Taylor said. “I enjoy it, so I keep on coming back. I go out there and do my best and play my game. … I am who I am, being that motor, being the go-to option, if need be, being the defensive stopper. Whatever it is that they need, I’m here to do.”
Taylor heads into her senior year with an eye on the future. She’s grateful for the experience she’ll gain playing internationally. Her long-term goal is to play in the WNBA, but she’s open to using the fifth collegiate year available if she desires.
“I’m going to see how this year plays out,” said Taylor. “If it takes another year for me to prepare myself and put myself in the best position, then that’s what I’m going to do.”