Stockton, Calif. • By now, most people know of BYU coach Mark Pope’s medical past. The self-described “medical school dropout” completed two years of medical school at Columbia University after an eight-year NBA career, but then left it to start his coaching career at the University of Georgia.

However, what some may not know is that one of his players also has a history in the medical field, but he didn’t have to give up basketball. In fact, he used it as a way to stay in the game.

While he’s not in season with the Cougars, Taylor Maughan is a certified EMT, completing the course while recovering from a fractured patella and some ligament lesions in his ankle.

Through his time as an EMT, the senior guard learned more about working as a team and the importance of communication, traits that have overlapped with his basketball career.

“Just being able to communicate with your partner and work well,” Maughan said. “There’s really no glory in it — you’re doing your job and you’re taking care of people.”

Even though Maughan always wanted to play at BYU, his career instead started at BYU-Hawaii. As a freshman in 2012-13, Maughan averaged 4.5 points while shooting 39.2% from the field and 34.7% from the 3.

Then, the Fullerton, Calif. native left to Columbus, Ohio for a church mission. However, it was cut short after Maughan got injured.

Once back home, Maughan knew he wanted to go into the medical field after getting his degree and had 10 months before he would be reassigned to another mission outpost, so he figured he’s make the most of it.

He also wouldn’t be able to play basketball at the time, so he wanted to stay busy. His uncle, who is a doctor, ended up pointing Maughan in the direction of the EMT program, which would be a good way to get patient contact hours and other experience.

“I enrolled and the next week I was in EMT school and it was like 10½ hour days for four and a half weeks, and they just open the fire hydrant and just spray you down with information,” Maughan said.

Maughan ended up working about seven months in Los Angeles and Orange counties before he got reassigned to Oklahoma City for his second missionary stint. When he returned from Oklahoma two years later, Maughan recertified.

“I’m still, technically, a nationally registered EMT,” he said. “I don’t know how many guys are doing what I’m doing and are also EMTs, but it was cool. And I loved working in that environment.”

While Maughan still underwent physical therapy to recover from his injuries sustained during his first mission leg, he’s not entirely sure if the physical demands of the program also helped him recover. At the very least, it didn’t hurt him.

“I don’t know if it necessarily helped, but it gave me something to do,” Maughan said. “My mind was occupied with other things … like basketball. All my friends were still playing. That kind of gave me something to do. It took my mind off of being home, and I knew I still wanted to go back on my mission. I’d say, more mentally it helped me just keep my mind off of the fact that I couldn’t really do what I really wanted to do at that time.”

Then, another hiccup. By the time Maughan finally finished his mission and was looking to get back to basketball, BYU-Hawaii had shut down it’s entire athletic program. He was suddenly a basketball player without a team.

When Maughan was first looking where to play after graduating from Troy High School (Calif.), BYU didn’t have any scholarship spots available, but BYU-Hawaii did reach out with an offer. So, Maughan figured he’d play one season on the island, go on his mission and then transfer to BYU. In a way, that’s what ended up happening — but with a much bigger break between action than originally planned.

Once back from his mission, Maughan reached out to his former Seasiders assistant coach David Evans, who was now coaching at Lone Peak, and informed him of his desire to transfer to BYU in Provo and asked if he had any connections.

Evan ended up connecting Maughan with former BYU assistant coach Quincy Lewis. After staying in touch over the summer, Lewis invited Maughan to a tryout.

The week before, Maughan broke his wrist. Still, Lewis encouraged Maughan to come out.

At tryouts, Maughan sat on the sidelines and watched everything. By the end of it, the staff invited him onto the team.

After wearing a cast for almost three months, Maughan finally took part in his first team practice the Monday after Thanksgiving break last season.

“For two months, I stood on the sidelines, like every single practice,” Maughan said. “I'm sure a lot of the guys and some of the coaches were like, 'what's this dude doing here?' But they gave me a practice jersey and everything and so it was kind of like 'we'll see how you do.'”

Since arriving in Provo, Maughan had set small goals for himself.

At first, he just wanted to go to the annex and get some shots up. Then, he wanted a practice jersey, which led to wanting a game jersey.

Even though Maughan isn't a starter, and not even part of the secondary team, the senior has embraced his role with the Cougars.

“For me, I'm just grateful to be here,” Maughan said. “I mean, every day is a blessing to still be playing basketball. And to do everything I can to help this team win, behind the scenes, that's what makes it all worth it. And being able to see the dudes that I push in practice, and they push me in practice to get better, to see them do things that I've seen them do in practice every day, it makes it all worth it for me.”

Coach Mark Pope said the team has an extraordinary crew of walk-ons in Maughan, Evan Troy and Cameron Pearson. Those three guys come in every day and fight and battle as hard as they can.

Over the last three days before taking on Pacific, Maughan took on the role of Jahlil Tripp — the Tigers’ leading scorer.

Pope said Maughan did a stellar job of taking on the role in practice, especially taking on the physicality and attacking downhill.

“It gave us a great look,” Pope said. “Hell, he doesn't get a ton of payoff for it, but you don't find many young people, ever, in any generation, but especially in this generation that, are that selfless, like 'hey, I'll come every single day and give my whole heart and soul and I don't have to get anything back. I'm just going to do it for my brothers on this team.' He's a special human being.”

Since having to sit out with a cast, Maughan hasn’t missed any other practice — and really takes on the role of being on the scout team. All Maughan wants is for the team to win. And to do that, he understands he must put the needs of the team before his own.

So, Maughan will continue to have his work shine behind closed doors to help others shine on the court.

“This group of guys is special,” Maughan said. “When coach talks about how we have the best locker room in America, he means it. It’s not fluff. We’ve got 17 dudes who genuinely care about each other and each other’s lives on and off the basketball court – and so do the coaches. It’s a blessing to be here.”

BYU AT SAN FRANCISCO
At War Memorial Gym, San Francisco


Tipoff » Saturday, 3 p.m. MT
TV » KJZZ
Radio » 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, Sirius XM 143
Records » BYU 15-6; USF 14-7
All-time series » BYU leads 19-8
Last meeting » USF 77, BYU 71 (Feb. 21, 2019)


About BYU » After missing the four previous games due to injury, Yoeli Childs returned to action at Pacific and finished with 26 points on 11 of 20 shooting in the Thursday win over the Tigers. It was his fifth 20-point game this season and 38th of his career. ... Jake Toolson scores a career-best 28 points and tied his career high with six 3-pointers made. ... With a start on Saturday, TJ Haws will set the new BYU career record for most consecutive starts, with 123.
About USF » The Dons are returning home after falling to Saint Mary’s 58-48 on the road. ... USF led by as many as 14 points in the first half before the Gaels mounted a second-half comeback to snap the Dons’ three-game winning streak. ... Junior guard Jamaree Bouyea scored a team-best 19 points against Saint Mary’s.