Quentin Taylor's basketball game has allowed him to travel the country, but he's found his college choice closer to home.
The Palm Springs High School senior, who will start for the Indians for the fourth consecutive season, will play for nationally ranked Division II power Cal Poly Pomona after signing his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.
Taylor leads a list of 12 student athletes across the valley who signed college scholarships in volleyball, baseball, softball, tennis and golf.
"It was a long journey to pick a school that fits me very well as a player, a person and academically," said Taylor, The Desert Sun's player of the year and a member of the all-state top 20 in Division III for his junior year. "I went to camps at Virginia Tech and Cornell, played all over, but found my school right down the street."
The 6-2 guard received offers from numerous schools, but with the national reputation that Pomona holds, plus having a coach who graduated from Palm Springs (associate head coach Damion Hill), he knew his choice immediately.
"There's some genuine guys there," he said. "It was the only official visit I had. I checked out what they're all about and just knowing that they were so close it's crazy."
Taylor led Palm Springs with 18 points per game last season along with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. He is on pace to become coach Dennis Zink's first 1,000-point scorer.
"The biggest thing for me is Quentin has worked so hard to give himself options," Zink said. "He's signing early because he can. He would have had more options if he waited, but he's made a great decision. He'll play for a team that's used to winning and the system is similar to ours. It's a testament to his character that he's in this position."
Zink said as long as he's been on the sidelines, he's never witnessed a player with Taylor's finesse at the pull-up jumper.
"It's a next-level pull-up jumper," Zink said. "There's a lot of kids that are as athletic as Quentin Taylor and a lot who are as tough, but not as many who are as skilled as he is offensively, especially off the dribble."
Taylor said now that he's made his choice, he's ready to lead the Indians.
"I just want to go all the way this year and have a memorable senior year," he said.
Here's a look at the other area athletes who signed Wednesday:
Xavier Prep, baseball, California Baptist
A first-team all-DVL player, Cole was Xavier's leading hitter and one of the top performers in the league race. A talented outfielder, Cole is a leader on and off the field, according to coach Clint Cleland.
"He put himself in a position to be seen," Cleland said. "He's an excellent teammate who hits for power, a line drive doubles hitter. He also runs well and has a good arm. He made significant improvement in the weight room, too."
Cole has played varsity since his sophomore year and also plays on a club team.
"That's where Cal Baptist saw me," Cole said. "The coaches invited us to watch a game and check out the campus. From the beginning, my Dad and I really liked the mindset. I liked it and I knew it was for me."
Palm Desert, baseball, UC Riverside
A 6-foot-4, 200-pound right hander, Compton was a key cog in Palm Desert's CIF title run as a position player and pitcher. He'll head to one of the top programs in the state at UC Riverside.
"They came after me and I respected that," said Compton, who noted that his fastball and curve are his one-two punch. "It's close to home, a good school with great academics and has been a good baseball program for a long time. They wanted me, and I wanted to be part of their program, so that's exactly how I decided on it. I have a good chance of coming in and playing."
Compton is looking forward to making another championship run and said that the Aztecs have the pitching to get it done again.
"If we connect on everything else, I think we can do it again," he said.
Coach Darol Salazar said Compton's work ethic gave him the extra edge.
"He worked really hard to develop as a pitcher," Salazar said. "He made himself a scholarship athlete."
Xavier Prep, volleyball, Temple University
Tyler Davis led Xavier to its first DVL championship and first unbeaten regular season, but also made history as the first at her school to land a full Division I volleyball scholarship. The Palm Desert resident knew that Temple University was her next stop as soon as she landed on the East Coast.
Coach Stu Rowland asked her to make other visits, but Davis was hooked on the up-and-coming program and the school's academic prestige.
"It's a testament to her," said Rowland, whose team finished 15-1 overall. "She knew she was going on to play, but insisted it was more about the academics than the athletics. She's so grounded and has a good head on her shoulders."
Davis added that she's eager to become part of an improving program. She joins Palm Springs High alum Jennifer Iacobini on the Owls' roster.
"I didn't know much about Temple, but I've been looking at them since 10th grade," she said. "They've gone up and down, but it's a great academic place, a prestigious university. And I get to be part of helping change the program."
La Quinta, softball, Weber St. University
Gatlin is a multi-talent who has played first base, third and outfield for the perennial DVL power. She also plays for the U18 Fury club team, but has been recruited to Weber State as a shortstop/utility player.
After being offered a position during the club season, Gatlin made a quick decision.
"When I looked at what the school had to offer, looked at the athletes and the coaches, I loved what I saw," said Gatlin. "I like the small college atmosphere, but it's still Division I."
Gatlin's La Quinta coach DeDe Grutz noted that the Utah school is getting a solid hitter that can step up when needed after her junior season.
"She has quick hands and hits for power," Grutz said.
Palm Desert, tennis, Boise State
Boise State was the first school to make contact with the reigning DVL singles champ and Hewko was hooked when he made his visit.
"I met a bunch of great guys, they're like a family," he said. "They have a great training facility and the whole town is a college atmosphere. They were the first to contact me, and I made my verbal commitment."
Hewko's untimate goal is to make it to the professional ranks, and he says that Boise State has the coaches to help lead him in that direction.
"Their coaches are incredible," he said. "They've coached many good players and have the program that can get me to the next level."
Aztecs coach Randy Blalock said Hewko has the tools to excel.
"Abe continues to grow as a tennis player and not to mention physically as he towers at 6-4 and 205," Blalock said. "He is a hard worker, motivated to improve and his on-court leadership will transition to the college level quite well. He should do well."
Shadow Hills, baseball, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Nominated to the 2012 CIF North/South Junior All-Star team, Jesson was a first-team all-De Anza League performer and the team co-defensive MVP. He sparked the Knights with his .329 batting average, which included 10 doubles and 31 RBIs.
An imposing lefty pitcher at 6-3, 195, he compiled six victories on the mound, striking out 78 batters in 401/3 innings pitched and posted a 1.80 ERA.
"Jearl has been our vicious pitcher, one wicked lefty with incredible movement on his fastball," said coach Teg Diffey. "He's been a great addition, a hard-working kid and one you want representing your program with a 4.0-plus GPA."
KI TAEK LEE
La Quinta, golf, Arizona State
La Quinta's consistent top performer had his mind set on a Pac-12 school and Arizona State was his top choice.
"All my choices were Pac-12 schools and the reason why I chose ASU is they have one of the greatest programs in the nation," Lee said. "They've always been strong and have some of the best coaches there with the best practice facilities.
"One of the assistants there grew up here and that led me to ASU. It was the only visit I made and I know it was the place for me."
Lee is a year-round player with aspirations for a professional career.
"There's lots of alumni from there on Tour," Lee said. "There's six or seven out there now, who graduated from there and maybe 20 worldwide. There's not a lot of schools out there that can say that."
Palm Desert, tennis, Arizona
The Desert Valley League singles champion rolled through the regular season and finished as the top player for the third time, twice in singles and once in doubles.
Next week, the former Desert Sun player of the year is headed to the CIF-Southern Section Individual Championships, but she has decided on her next career move -- the University of Arizona.
"I looked on the East Coast, the Midwest and in Texas, but I really wanted to be in the Pac-12," Marker said. "The Pac-12 is the toughest conference in the country."
Marker made multiple trips to schools that she was considering, but Arizona was her first stop and will be her last.
"I knew from the start this is where I wanted to go," she said. "This was always in the back of my mind no matter where I went. I'm ready to try to get to the middle of the starting lineup and I want to make an impact."
Marker said she also chose Arizona due to its highly regarded business school.
Shadow Hills, baseball, California Baptist
The reigning De Anza League defensive MVP, this right-handed pitcher posted a 6-1 record with a 1.76 ERA. In 512/3 innings, he fanned 59 batters.
The 6-4, 180-pounder who played club ball for the Desert Prospects, attended some area camps and found out more about Cal Baptist. He liked what he heard.
"They have a good history with their coaches and I really liked the school," Miller said. "Antonio (Chavarria, of Indio, a CBU freshman) told me it was great. When they offered, I felt like it was right."
Coach Teg Diffey calls him another "intimidating force."
"His greatest asset is he's fluid, with an effortless delivery," said Diffey.
Indio, softball, University of Hawaii
Since her sophomore year, Morales has had her eye on Hawaii. A state-level all-star, Morales was The Desert Sun's player of the year as a junior and has been a DVL all-star all three varsity seasons. She was 7-5 as a pitcher for the 19-9 Rajahs last year, posting a 0.69 ERA, with 117 strikeouts and just 30 walks. Morales led the team with her .479 batting average and 20 home runs, one of the best marks in the state.
Rajahs' coach Marissa Araujo praised her top performer.
"Heather is a hard worker with lots of dedication," Araujo said. "She has a great personality and her will to work hard will keep her at the top."
Morales said she thought long and hard about the island school.
"I wanted to experience something different, with not too much of a weather change," Morales said. "I wanted a whole, new experience. I watched them when I was in middle school -- when they played at Big League Dreams -- and I said that's where I wanted to go. It seems real now."
Morales added that her goal is to be a freshman All-American and help Hawaii return to the College World Series, but first she plans to help the Rajahs in her final season with an eye on a state home run record.
Palm Desert, baseball, Arizona State
The reigning CIF player of the year who sparked his team to back-to-back CIF titles will take his talents to Arizona State University.
He contemplated numerous offers before deciding to stay in the Pac-12.
"I'm going to catch and maybe play a little first base, but bottom line is that they are such a good baseball school, I knew it was for me," said Serven, who also pitched for the Aztecs, finishing 7-0 while leading the team at the plate with his .391 average. "I'm going to have an opportunity to play as a freshman, and playing in the Pac-12 is such a huge deal so that's going to be fun."
Along with his Angels Elite club program, Serven is a star performer for the Palm Desert basketball team as well.
Coach Darol Salazar has high praise for Serven's game on and off the field.
"The best part about him is that he's a great teammate," Salazar said. "He cares about everyone. He's a great player and a great teammate and has a chance to get drafted high enough that he could seriously consider going."