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Maryland Basketball Recruiting

G Kozlova Eager To Prove Herself At Maryland

May 19, 2020
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The Maryland women’s team saw sharpshooter Taylor Mikesell transfer to Oregon May 16, but it didn’t take Terps’ coach Brenda Frese much time to find a replacement. Two days after Mikesell’s departure, UMD announced the addition of Taisiya “Tai” Kozlova, a class of 2020 6-foot-1 guard out of Elevation Prep Academy (Sarasota, Fla.).

During her one year at Elevation under coach Akyah Taylor, who played at Michigan State, Kozlova showed off her 3-point stroke en route to a team-high 13 points per game. She added 2.0 rebounds and 2.3 steals each night as well. Even so, Kozlova flew under the recruiting radar and mainly had interest from the likes of FIU, Mercer and Liberty, along with several junior colleges. 

“I’m extremely grateful and excited about what’s happened to me and to be playing for Coach Frese and Maryland,” Kozlova said. “I’m kind of coming from nowhere, but this is a new challenge for me to show what I’m made of and introduce myself [to the college basketball world]. When Maryland offered me, it was the only school I wanted to go to.”

Kozlova didn’t hear from Frese until May 11, at which time the coach placed the offer on the table. The Moscow native, who laced up for the noted WBC Spartak Moscow Region basketball club before coming to the United States, almost committed on the spot. But she deliberated for a week to discuss the situation with her coach and to further acclimate herself with the Terps.

“When [Frese] called, she said  she liked what I could do and wanted to offer me. Honestly, I was there with my friend and my coach, and they both started screaming, and I was screaming and crying too,” laughed Kozlova. “I was just so happy, because this is why I came to the United States to play. It didn’t take me long to say ‘yes’ to Maryland.”

During the week before accepting the offer, though, Kozlova did as much research on Frese and the Terps as she could. She watched videos of Frese’s fiery pregame speeches, saw game highlights from the last few years, and read various articles about the program. She also conducted a Zoom call with the entire Maryland staff to get a better feel for them and the school.

“I knew a little about Maryland before I heard from Coach Frese, but not much. So I did my research and was just very impressed,” Kozlova said. “It’s one of the top programs in the country. Then when I had my virtual visit, I was able to meet all of the coaches and see some of the facilities and the campus. I think I have a good idea what everything is like up there. I’m very excited.”

Kozlova said she’s played the “2” her entire life and expects that will continue at Maryland. She’s confident in her shooting prowess, and Frese and Co. can readily develop the other aspects of her game.

“I believe I have a good shot, I have good quickness, I play tough defense, and I understand the game well,” Kozlova said. “I still need to develop some things, though. I have to get stronger, I have to keep working on my left hand, and I have to keep working on getting my teammates involved.

“When I got to the United States last year, it didn’t take me long to get used to [the environment] here, but the biggest adjustment was going from European basketball to American basketball. The American game is much faster and much more physical, so I had to adjust to that. I’m still getting used to it, but I feel like I’m getting better.”

Kozlova said she’s been playing basketball for as long as she can remember. Other than school, it has been her main focus and passion much of her life (she does like to read and draw in her spare time). Her signing with Maryland was, in effect, a validation of her efforts.

But now she’s ready to take the next step and prove she can succeed in College Park.

“I definitely have goals going to Maryland,” said Kozlova, whose mother, father and younger sister remain in Moscow (“I hope one day they can all see me play at Maryland”). “I want to help my teammates as much as possible, and continue growing as a person and as a player. I want to help Maryland win a Big Ten championship and hopefully an NCAA championship.”

 
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