BUTTE — When the Montana Tech and Carroll College men's basketball teams clash yet again on Thursday, Taylor England will be looking to remind his hometown college of what they passed up.
"You always have a chip on your shoulder in the sense that you want to prove to them what they missed out on," said England, now a 6-foot-7, 220-pound senior post at Tech.
England certainly played with a chip his shoulder when the Orediggers and Saints met up earlier this month, notching a double-double with 20 points and 15 rebounds as Tech rolled past Carroll 82-62.
A Helena native and all-state player for the Helena High Bengals, England wanted nothing more as a high school athlete than to play for then-Carroll coach Carson Cunningham and the Fighting Saints.
Carroll didn't recruit him. But an hour south, a first-year coach at a rival Frontier Conference school took an interest.
As England was wrapping up his junior year of high school, his high school coach, John Hollow, reached out to Montana Tech's new coach, Adam Hiatt.
"He said, 'The guy you need to be all over is a kid that's going to be a senior next year named Taylor England,'" Hiatt said. "From that point is when we started recruiting him."
England's senior year of high school, Hiatt and then-assistant coach Derek Selvig -- now the head coach at Dickinson State -- invited him to Tech for a visit.
"We saw something special in him," Hiatt said. "At that point we were the only school that was consistently recruiting him. We offered him. He accepted, we're grateful for that.
"And then I think his recruiting may have picked up a little bit after he already committed to us. But by that point it was too late. He was already, he was bleeding green by that point."
Shortly after committing to Tech, Carroll reached out to England.
"The day I came here and talked to coach Hiatt and Selvig I ended up signing and then right after I left, the day or two after, I got a call from both (Steve Keller, the Providence coach who was at Montana Western at the time) and Cunningham seeing if I want to come play," England said. "I was like, 'Hey, it's too late. You guys missed your chance. I'm with Tech.'"
England has made the most of his career with the Orediggers, earning NAIA honorable mention All-American status as both a sophomore and junior and eclipsing the 1,000-point mark last season. He also last season helped the Orediggers to their first winning conference record in 20 years.
"As a coach I look at how we can be better from the previous year," Hiatt said. "That's been our trajectory as a program. We've been significantly better from one year to the next."