Photo credit: Xiaojuan Christian

Photo credit: Xiaojuan Christian

Zach Taulien’s basketball career started when he was six years old playing at Kilsyth Basketball Club in Mooroolbark, Australia. After graduating high school, he accepted a scholarship to play basketball at the University of West Georgia, but accepting the offer would mean traveling over 10,000 miles across the world. Taulien was only 18 years old when he made his decision to leave Australia to play basketball in America. This was his chance to leave his mark on the game.

“My first year here was the toughest, and there was a time when I was not sure I wanted to keep playing,” said Taulien. “I came in as a redshirt freshman. It was tough because I came over expecting to get playing time, but it felt like I was kind of placed to the side.”

This setback discouraged him, but it was temporary and did not stop him from strengthening his game. Taulien did not travel all this way to sit on the sideline, so he took some time to analyze his game and train to make himself better.

“When I came over, I knew my game had to change,” he said. “The guys here are much bigger than the guys back home, and that was something I would have to contend with. The position I played was more of a swingman back in Australia, but here I sculpted my game to become a shooter.”

He credited his ability to adapt his gameplay to his days playing in club basketball tournaments in Mooroolbark.

“Team sports are organized a little differently in Australia,” said Taulien. “Back home we don’t have high school sports. If you wanted to play a sport, you would have to join a another local club, and we would have to play against other clubs in what would sometimes end up being day-long tournaments.”

He also remembered practicing five days a week to prepare himself for facing opponents from all over southeastern Australia. Growing up playing and practicing, Taulien was familiar with long and grueling practices when he arrived at UWG. When he had to bear long early morning or afternoon practices, his teammates beared it with him.

“When I came here I had some pretty good role models,” said Taulien. “As a redshirt freshman, I looked up to the seniors, and they taught me how to be a real leader. I enjoy looking back on my career and realizing how much I have grown and how much my game has matured.”

As a senior, he hopes to set an example for UWG’s newest class of recruits as the seniors did for him. He plans to show them what being a part of a team really means.

When he transformed his game, he did it to so he could make a bigger contribution to the team. He worked diligently on his shot, and it worked out well for him because his quick shot is what helped him achieve record-breaking stats.

“I recently broke the school record for most career three pointers,” Taulien said. “The previous career record was around 187 three pointers, and I think I am nearing 200. Accomplishing that is one thing that is going to stay with me forever.”

His record-breaking stats are just one of the highlights from the Wolves’ 2016 season. This year, the men’s basketball team made school history by winning its fourth Gulf South Conference title. As the season closed, Taulien reflected on the time playing at UWG and being a part of the winning the Gulf South Conference championship title.

“It’s what I wanted ever since I came here,” he said. “That was my goal, and to get it in my senior year felt amazing. I have come a long way since being that young redshirt freshman. I am proud of what our team accomplished, and I am glad I got to be a part of this legacy.”

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