Laramie County Community College sophomore shooting guard Landon Taliaferro has had the hot hand behind the arc this season for the Golden Eagles.
After 26 games this season Taliaferro leads the country in three-pointers made with 115. The next closest player to Taliaferro is Malcolm Richardson from Florida State Jacksonville with 98 made three-pointers.
“I didn’t expect to lead the country in threes coming into the season, but it feels great,” Taliaferro said. “It feels like some work is paying off.”
It’s not just the threes that have led to Taliaferro’s prolific scoring season. Taliaferro is second in the country in scoring with 618 points. He trails Kaelin Jackson of Temple, who has scored 638 points on the season.
Shooting from behind the arc is a big part of modern basketball, but it is Taliaferro’s work from inside the three-point line that has led him to a great scoring season.
“I put a lot of work in, in the off season,” Taliaferro said. “I worked on my mid-range and floaters and other stuff besides threes. Also when I’m on the court, rather than focusing on the points I just focus on getting my teammates involved and the other stuff just kind of happens for me.”
Taliaferro has had a successful sophomore season after playing only 59 minutes as a freshman for the Golden Eagles. With four games left to play in the regular season, Taliaferro has already logged 551 minutes for the Golden Eagles and has logged at least 35 minutes in 11 games this season.
Taliaferro said he contributes his upswing in minutes played this season to gaining experience in the time he did find himself on the floor last year.
“Just experience and knowing how to act on the floor,” Taliaferro said. “I’m taking my experiences from last year and moving them to this year and growing up a little bit too.”
It’s not just the amount of threes that Taliaferro has made for the Golden Eagles this year that makes him a great shooter; it’s the percentage that he is making them. Taliaferro is hitting 4.4 three-pointers a game while attempting 8.7. That puts him at 50.7 percent from behind the arc, which is tied for the 15th-best percentage in the nation.
Taliaferro attempts, by far, the most three pointers per game compared to anyone ahead of him on this list. The closest player to him is Brandon Mahan from Chipola College in Marianna, Florida, who is hitting 51.1 percent of his threes, but only averaging 5.9 attempts a game. Mahan has only made 69 threes on the season, 46 threes behind Taliaferro.
What sets Taliaferro apart from other great shooters around the country is his game day preparation.
“I think something I might do differently than other people is that I meditate a lot,” Taliaferro said. “Especially before games it helps my mind kind of calm down, which is a big thing.”
Taliaferro has been working on perfecting his jump shot for years. Like most basketball players he started at a young age and has been refining his shot ever since elementary school.
“I remember in third grade I decided to change my shot from the two-handed shot to the one-hand shot,” Taliaferro said. “I had a really great shooting coach in high school. Everyday if (my shot) felt off we would tweak it and just kept improving it every day, every week, every month and I just ended up with a good shot I guess.”
The work that Taliaferro has put in has paid off big for the Golden Eagles this season. Taliaferro has hit at least five three-pointers in 12 games this season, nearly half of the games he has played in so far.
With such a great season it would be understandable if Taliaferro was thinking about his future as a possible Division I player, but he is completely focused on this season.
“I don’t have any idea yet really,” Taliaferro said. “I have some options but I’m just going to focus on these last five games and then the playoffs, then I’ll figure out what I’m personally going to do next year.”
The Golden Eagles are 15-11 on the season, which is down from last year’s team that was 15-9 at this point in the season. The Golden Eagles have been on an upswing lately, winning four of their last six games, including blowing out Eastern Wyoming College 93-66 on Jan. 7.
Taliaferro knows this season could have started out better, but with the playoffs approaching he said he likes where the team is headed.
“I think that we have had an OK season so far,” Taliaferro said. “We definitely need to pick it up going into the playoffs. I think we are coming together a little bit, especially the last couple of games. I think we will be good if we play some defense.”
It won’t be an easy road into the playoffs for the Golden Eagles; they have gone 1-3 this season against their final four opponents.
The Golden Eagles will have two home games against Western Nebraska Community College and Trinidad State Junior College before going on the road to finish out against Lamar Community College and Otero Junior College.