- Tayshaun Prince
- Hometown (Last School)
- Compton, CA (Dominguez)
- 1998-99, 1999-00, 2000-01, 2001-02
- February 28, 1980
Tayshaun Durell Prince, a left-hander, was born to Diane and Thomas Prince, February 28, 1980, in Compton, California. Nicknamed Tay, the 6-foot-9-inch small forward graduated from Dominguez High School before playing college basketball for the University of Kentucky. He was California’s Player of the Year in 1998. The 1998 McDonald’s All-American led Dominguez to a 96-9 (91.4%) record during his three seasons, including a state championship during his junior year of 1997. He averaged 22.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 4.0 bpg and 5.2 apg as a senior, leading the Dons to a 32-3 mark. As a junior, he averaged 20.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 5.0 assists and 5.0 bpg in carrying the squad to a 30-4 record. Following his sophomore season, he was named all-state and MVP of his conference. Finished his career as a finalist for the Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award and was voted a second-team Parade All-American. He was voted a member of USA Today’s preseason Super 25 squad, picked as the No. 6 high school front-court player by Dick Vitale’s College Basketball Yearbook, a second-team selection to Street & Smith’s 1998 All-America Team, listed as one of CNN/Sl’s preseason top-five players in the nation and tabbed as Athlon’s No. 16 prep off-guard in ’98. He graduated with a 3.3 GPA and was on the school’s honor roll for three years. Coached at Dominguez by Russell Otis.
Tayshaun committed to play basketball for Kentucky in November of 1997 choosing the Wildcats over Kansas, Georgetown and UCLA. He played four seasons (1998 to 2002) for the Kentucky Wildcats, averaging 13.2 points and 5.7 rebounds as the Wildcats posted a 97–39 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament each year. Prince won SEC Player of the Year in his junior season (2000–2001)—also leading the SEC in free throw percentage (84.3%)—and was named to the Associated Press All-SEC Teams in both his junior and senior years. Kentucky won the SEC Tournament in 1999 and 2001, and Prince was awarded the 2001 tournament’s Most Valuable Player award. He was a three-time team MVP with the Wildcats.
Tayshaun grew to 6’9″ and gained 30 pounds after leaving high school. He has a 7 foot wingspan. Earned his first collegiate start November 23, 1998, against Wright State. As a frosh, had a terrific performance in the SEC tourney title game with seven points, eight boards, six assists and no turnovers in 25 minutes against the Razorbacks. He averaged 6.0 ppg and 6.3 rpg in the SEC tourney.
Started all but one game as a sophomore and scored in double figures 23 times, playing in every game but one. Finished first on the team and 12th in the SEC in scoring (13.3 ppg) and second at UK in rebounding (6.0 rpg) to earn the team’s Most Outstanding Player Award. Turned it up down the stretch, scoring in double figures in the last five games while hitting 17 of his last 20 free throws. Scored a career-high 28 points in the double-OT win over St. Bonaventure in the NCAA Tournament, including a clutch three-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation to tie the game. Was outstanding the final week of the regular season, totaling 35 points and 12 rebounds in wins over Mississippi State and Florida. Had eight points and a career-high 11 rebounds vs. Arkansas on Feb. 26, his second double-figure rebounding effort that season. In the first game against Tennessee, broke from a four-game, 30.2% shooting slump by hitting 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range to pour in 17 points, 14 in the second half. Canned clutch shots in three straight games: Against Miami, his runner in the lane gave UK a 58-57 lead with 23 seconds remaining. Big down the stretch at Georgia (1/26/00), scoring 10 of his 14 points in the last seven minutes and finishing with a game-high four steals. In the second meeting with Vandy, hit a double-pump, game-clinching three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining in OT and UK leading by two. Made his first start at power forward against U of L, shooting 61.5 percent from the field to finish with 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots in the 30-point win. Made the Preseason NIT’s All-Tourney team after tallying 21 points and nine rebounds against Maryland and 18 points and five boards against Arizona.
During his junior campaign, Prince won the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and led the SEC in free-throw percentage (84.3). Prince was named a second team Associated Press All-American after his junior season and a third-team AP All-American after his senior season. In his four-year tenure with the Wildcats, he averaged 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Prince finished as the seventh-leading scorer in UK history with 1,775 points and second on the all-time list for 3-point shots made with 204.
Tayshaun Prince did something a lot of student-athletes with professional basketball potential don’t do — he returned to college for his senior, and final, year of eligibility.
“There were two main reasons I decided to go back to school for my senior year,” said Prince. “One of them was that my sister and my brother had both graduated from college, so I wanted to have that experience and also, for my parents’ perspective, to be able to have all three of their children graduate from college. That was one reason. But the second reason I went back was thc UK fans. They made me feel so comfortable and so at home. They were the other main reason I decided to go back.”
He finished his career among the school’s top-ten scorers, the top-two three-point field goal shooters and the top-five shot blockers.
Notable individual performances included a 31-point, 11-rebound, four-assist, and four-steal effort in a 79–59 victory over North Carolina on December 9, 2001. In scoring Kentucky’s first fifteen points, Prince made five consecutive three-point shots. Kentucky shooting guard Keith Bogans compared Prince’s performance to “the Chicago Bulls’ Michael Jordan blistering Portland in the 1992 NBA Finals.”
In an 87–82 victory over Tulsa during the 2002 NCAA Tournament, Prince scored a career-high 41 points (along with nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks) to lead Kentucky to the Sweet 16.
He graduated from Kentucky in 2002 with a degree in sociology.
- SEC Player of the Year (2001)
- Consensus second team All-American (2001)
- NABC All-American Second Team (2002)
- AP All-American Third Team (2002)
- First Team All-SEC (2001, 2002)
- SEC Tournament MVP (2001)
- SEC All-Tournament Team (2001)
Memories of his undergraduate basketball days wearing UK blue and white loom large in the career highlights reel within Prince’s mind.
“My whole four years at UK was something special in itself, dating back to when I went to Midnight Madness and was able to experience the Kentucky fan base and see what it was all about. I felt something special in my heart and knew that Kentucky would be the place for me,” he said.
Despite his signature low-key, composed nature both on and off the court, Prince is a competitor through and through, so nothing would have thrilled him more than winning an NCAA championship during his time at UK. Even without that title, his time at Kentucky is something he treasures.
“Obviously, everywhere you play, at every level, you want to win a championship. At Kentucky I didn’t win a championship, but I can say that playing there was one of the fondest memories of my basketball career, not just because of everything on the basketball court, but also off the basketball court, as well. The way people treated me like I was one of their own. That was something really special,” Prince said. “l will never be able to describe to people how special my four years at UK were to me.”
He was drafted 23rd overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2002 NBA draft and went on to win a championship with the team in 2004. In his rookie season, he became the only player in NBA history to score more points in the playoffs than during the regular season. Prince was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in January 2013. He is also known for making one of the most iconic blocks in NBA playoff history when, on May 24,2004, he hurtled out of nowhere and pinned a layup attempt by Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers against the backboard. That layup would have tied the game with about 19 seconds to go. He is currently vice president of basketball affairs for the Memphis Grizzlies.
On August 20, 2007, Prince was selected to be a part of Team USA that competed at the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship, a qualifying tournament for the Beijing Olympics. With his defensive poise, he contributed in the USA’s unbeaten record at the tournament held in Las Vegas, Nevada and earned a spot at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
On June 23, 2008, Prince was selected for the Olympic squad along with eleven others in the hope of fulfilling the ambition of winning their first gold medal since the 2000 Summer Olympics. Team USA went on to do exactly that, going unbeaten in the tournament with Prince coming off the bench and defeating 2006 World Champion Spain in the final, living up to their “Redeem Team” moniker.
On August 15, 2017, Prince joined the Memphis Grizzlies as special assistant to general manager. Just three years removed from a 14-year NBA career, on April 27, 2019, the Grizzlies promoted him to Vice President of Basketball Affairs.