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Basketball recruiter killed in Goose Island hit-and-run

Updated: May 14, 2013 6:11AM

Basketball recruiter Billy Taylor had a unique knowledge of the sport at all levels in Chicago.

“Kids really respected him because he could envision a career path for a player,” said friend and NBA agent Mike Naiditch.

Taylor, 40, of Hazel Crest, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver about 4:20 a.m. on Goose Island Thursday morning.

The vehicle, described as a 2010-13 black or dark-colored four-door Hyundai Sonata­ — possibly with front end damage — was westbound in the 1000 block of West Division when it struck Taylor, dragging his body nearly 1,000 feet.

“Billy went way back to the Kevin Garnett times, and that’s kind of how he made his mark. He was like a street recruiter who tried to recruit players for agents,” said Naiditch. “All the NBA guys know Billy, and they’d try to reach into his mind. ... Some teams would use him for scouting.”

One of Taylor’s children wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps, said Naiditch.

“He was a numbers guy, he’d study strengths and weaknesses based on stats before these kids were in the media,” said sports agent John Spencer. “He’d say, ‘In three years you’re going to start hearing about this kid.’”

“If you want to get into Chicago basketball, you’ve got to get to know Billy Taylor, because he knows everybody,” said Spencer.

“People may have thought, ‘He’s just a street guy,’ but he really cared about these kids,” said Spencer.

Taylor was friends with New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert, who grew up in Oak Park. Taylor visited Shumpert, who was in town to play the Bulls on Thursday, the day before he died, said Naiditch. Taylor also told friends he was advising Los Angeles Laker Earl Clark on a deal.

Taylor was a staple in the Chicago basketball scene for years. “He had such a passion for the game,” said Naiditch. “He just knows basketball, he knows everyone, he thought basketball all day long.”

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