By Scott Eddy, Director of Athletics Communications
Three years ago, life as a freshman in the Atlantic 10 was a struggle for St. Bonaventure senior Idris Taqqee.
Going through the growing pains that many Division I freshmen face, Taqqee battled his way into the Bonnies rotation and, late in the 2014-15 season, he saw improvement and increased playing time.
Those days sure seem like a long time ago for the Snellville, Ga., native who is entering his senior season as a key component to a Bonnies team that has high hopes in 2017-18.
He has started all but one game the past two seasons, averaging a career-best 6.8 points along with 5.3 rebounds per contest in nearly 34 minutes per game last year.
The type of do-it-all player who facilitates his team's success without taking much of the limelight, Taqqee has served as one of head coach Mark Schmidt's most reliable players since joining the program.
Schmidt often refers to Taqqee as his "glue guy" – the type of player that holds everything else together.
"It just means I have to work harder than the next guy and keep picking my teammates up," Taqqee says. "It means I can't take my foot off the gas. That's how I look at it."
For this, his senior season, Taqqee says he has been working on becoming more consistent and more aggressive on the boards. When it comes to goals, he mentions the words that most fans have been talking about during the offseason: the NCAA Tournament.
While expectations are high, he and his teammates not afraid of them. Instead, they are embracing the anticipation around this season.
"We just want to get the most out of it. The expectations, that's the sort of thing we've been working for, so that people have those for us," he said. "We just have to keep the same approach and stay steady every day in practice. We have to bring the energy; some days you're going to be beat up, but you have to have guys that want to bring it on both ends of the floor."
And he's paying it forward as well. Remembering the bumps in the road during his freshman campaign, he's trying to help this year's freshmen acclimate to the system.
"I struggled a lot my freshman year, so I try to give insight as much as I can," he said. "I never try to short the guys and to give as much input as I can because I took a lot of advice my freshman year."
Taqqee's journey to St. Bonaventure started by leaving home at age 13 when he moved 1,000 miles from his home near Atlanta to finish middle school, and later high school at Cushing Academy in Massachusetts. His decision to make the life-changing move was to focus on academics and a potential future in athletics. He was a two-sport star in Massachusetts, excelling as a wide receiver and cornerback on the football field and was recruited by several Division I-AA football programs.
It was basketball that ultimately ended up being his future, though, after helping his team win back-to-back New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class AA championships.
"Leaving home at 13 years old has been a journey, but it is something that has helped me connect with a lot of people," he says. "My family has been there for me every step of the way. I've been challenged in many ways, but my mom and dad have been very supportive and I'm fortunate things have turned out the way they have."
As his final season in a Bonnies uniform dawns, he knows there will be many memories he'll often look back on with a smile – and hopefully several more yet to come from this season.
"It's definitely been better than I could've ever expected," he says with a smile. "The good things that we've done are things that I will cherish."
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