CARMEL, Ind. — Tomi Taiwo is listed as a combo guard, but there’s one skill she does best.
Shoot from deep.
There are statistics to support that claim about the incoming Iowa women’s basketball recruit.
Oh, and plenty of stories.
Tod Windlan, her coach at Carmel (Ind.) High School, can rattle off several without hesitating. And he only coached Taiwo for two seasons.
There’s the first time Taiwo played in any type of organized game with Carmel, transferring there before her junior season from a school in Fort Wayne, Ind.
She had only been to one, maybe two, open gyms before a summer team camp. Windlan decided to put her on the second team in order not to “ruffle any feathers.” Taiwo hit seven 3-pointers against another school’s varsity team.
The coaches shared a laugh after the game. Taiwo was moved to the first team.
There’s the time she hit 52 consecutive free throws as a senior. After the streak ended, Windlan joked with Taiwo about finally missing a free throw.
“Is that good?” Taiwo said of the streak with a straight-face.
And there’s the team camp in Michigan.
Amy Dilk, Indiana’s Miss Basketball and a Michigan recruit, was a teammate of Taiwo at Carmel. Carmel was playing in a shootout event in Michigan before last season, but Dilk was nursing an injury and did not participate.
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Taiwo buried six 3-pointers in a row against a good team. During a stop in play, one of the referees asked Windlan if Taiwo was the girl going to Michigan.
Windlan said no, to which the referee quickly added: “Michigan should be after her, too.”
Those stories are good illustrations, but statistics offer a quantitative way to gauge her shooting ability. Taiwo shot 45 percent (128 of 286) from beyond the 3-point line during her two seasons at Carmel, averaging 15.2 points.
Taiwo was selected as an Indiana All-Star, which entails playing a home-and-away series against the Kentucky All-Stars, along with a game against the Indiana Junior All-Stars. Taiwo shot 10 of 18 from beyond the 3-point line in those three games, averaging 9 points in 16 minutes.
While in high school, Taiwo created a video she posted on social media, in an attempt to get selected for a shooting contest. In the video she quickly nailed 27 consecutive 3-pointers, adding the most she made in a row was probably in the 35-40 range.
She has a quick release. Add in her ability to drive to the basket, and she might get on the court early with Iowa.
“The one thing that makes her valuable to have is you have to guard her,” Windlan said. “You can’t leave her open, she’ll absolutely kill you. If they’re doubling down, and they leave her open on a kick-out, she’s going to kill you.”
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The transition to college shouldn’t be too difficult. Taiwo went to three different high schools. She was in Minnesota for her freshman year, before her family moved to Fort Wayne for a job. Then, her mother got a better job in the Indianapolis area and Taiwo transferred to Carmel. And Taiwo was born in Kansas, so she jokes her tour of the Midwest continues in Iowa.
“I’m used to adjusting to different teams and how they run things and the different paces used,” Taiwo said.
Taiwo’s ability to shoot could earn her early playing time. But if opponents try to crowd her, that could prove to be a costly mistake, Windlan said.
“If you crowd her, she’s very quick with that first step to get past you,” Windlan said. “And she’s very creative with getting contact inside and getting her shot off. ... She’s used to playing high-level basketball. Once she gets used to it, gets settled in, gets stronger, gets used to the speed of the college game she’ll be fine.”