Nicole Taylor grew up watching Lani Boardman play basketball, first at York High and later at the University of Vermont.

Now Taylor is going to follow Boardman’s path one more time.

Taylor, the York High senior generally regarded as the best girls’ basketball player in the state, has verbally committed to play basketball at Vermont.

“When I stepped on the campus,” said Taylor, “something just felt right.”

Her decision is a coup for first-year Vermont coach Lori Gear McBride, who coached the last five years at Colby College in Waterville and is very familiar with Taylor’s potential. While she cannot comment until Taylor signs her national letter of intent — most likely in November — York Coach Rick Clark summed up the decision thusly: “It’s a great catch by Vermont.”

The 6-foot Taylor was the Gatorade Maine Player of the Year last winter, as well as the Maine Sunday Telegram MVP. A starter since her freshman season, she led the Wildcats to an undefeated Class B state championship last February.

Taylor averaged 19.1 points and 11.1 rebounds, and tallied 10 double-doubles. She has scored 1,075 career points (third all-time at York) and grabbed 742 rebounds (fifth). Boardman, who graduated from York in 2001, leads the Wildcats all-time with 1,413 points and 1,111 rebounds.

Taylor, who also plays for the New England Crusaders AAU team out of Nashua, N.H., recently met with Boardman to talk about her college choices. She had narrowed her selections to Vermont and Division II Stonehill College.

“It was really just a matter of catching up with her,” said Taylor. “She talked to me about her experience up there, not just basketball. We talked about what she got out of it.”

Taylor was already leaning toward Vermont. “I love the coaching staff and the town of Burlington,” she said. “The success they had last year was also persuasive.”

Vermont went 27-7, won the America East tournament and went 1-1 in the NCAA tourney.

Taylor, a center for the Wildcats, likely will move to a forward spot in college. Clark said she should be able to handle that well.

“I think she has a lot of things going for her as she enters college,” he said. “Her basketball knowledge and experience is exceptional, and physically she is very strong. She is more prepared for college ball, physically, than anyone I’ve had.

“She brings great versatility to the court. She handles the ball well, she shoots from the outside and she’s a good passer.”

Taylor said she will continue to work on her overall game. “I definitely need to work on my ballhandling, my vision on the court and my range,” she said.

Kara Leary, the Crusaders’ coach, said Taylor’s game has developed steadily since she joined five years ago. “She just likes to play ball,” said Leary. “She’s a good kid and obviously a good player. I think her best days are ahead of her.”

Playing for the Crusaders — her teammates this summer also included Deering’s Kayla Burchill and McAuley’s Alexa Coulombe — also opened Taylor’s eyes to top-flight competition.

“I saw how many good players there are in this country,” she said. “In Maine, you’re in this little bubble and you don’t see all these great players until you start traveling. And that does prepare you for college.”

Taylor will continue to compete in soccer and track as a senior, and is glad to have the pressure of a decision end.

“I’m excited about it and looking forward to meeting new people,” said Taylor. “But at the same time I’m looking forward to playing my senior year.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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