Welcome to A10 Talk’s Preseason Top 25 Player Countdown for the 2018-19 season. Each day, we’ll be publishing a new article counting down our best 25 players for the coming season, as voted on by our staff of writers. Today, we feature #22 Taylor Funk of Saint Joseph’s.
What He’s Done
Aside from having one of the coolest names in the Atlantic 10 in the past few years (and that’s against some stiff competition), Taylor Funk had a strong first season in Hawk Hill that he’ll hope to build upon in ’18-’19. Funk came onto the scene in the first few games of last year, erupting for 68 points in the first 3 games of last season, including 13 made threes. He was the X-Factor in wins over Illinois Chicago and Princeton, immediately establishing himself as a lethal threat from range. Funk would obviously cool down after that scorching hot start, but he’d still shoot 39.4% from distance as a freshman, leading a Saint Joseph’s team that didn’t break the top 200 nationally in three point shooting percentage last year.
Funk also served as one of SJU’s biggest catalysts in conference play against tougher opponents. In a stunning road win over Rhode Island, Funk gave the Hawks 17 points and 6 rebounds, as he didn’t miss a shot from the floor or from the charity stripe. Games with 4 made threes helped lift the Hawks over VCU, Dayton, Massachusetts, and Richmond as well. In fact, Funk had 11 nights last season where he cashed in on at least 4 attempts from long range — the freshman was clearly SJU’s best shooter last year. Funk was efficient from the field and the stripe as well and was effective at not turning the ball over. All in all, Funk deserves a lot of credit for lifting the Hawks to a 4 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
What He’ll Do
Funk can take more of a role player position this season with Lamarr Kimble and Charlie Brown back in the starting lineup. Attempting 213+ three point shots as a sophomore probably won’t be necessary, as Charlie Brown is a proven scorer and dangerous threat from downtown. There’s a reason Taylor earned the nickname “Downtown Funk” last season, and I don’t expect that to change this year. If Lamarr Kimble bounces back to his full potential, he can run the offense effectively and get his sophomore teammate open looks from where he does the most damage. And if Funk can further enhance his ability to work off the dribble and get to the lane, we know he’s a proven free throw shooter who will make you pay from the charity stripe. Funk has one of the smoother strokes in the league right now, and if you don’t guard him like white on rice, you’re going to be in for a long day. Expect Funk to be the Hawks’ leading three point shooter next season, and with less pressure and added depth, his three-point percentage could skyrocket.
Previously: #23 Jacob Gilyard