How often do we see kids playing in a higher age group? “I watched this girl play the most tenacious D, because she was so angry after she lost,” said Celeste Taylor’s father on his then 9-year-old daughter’s strong performance at a game where she played on the 14-year-old girls’ team. Born in Queens, Taylor had an interesting life before she made it to the WNBA as the 15th overall pick in the 2024 draft.

Growing up in Valley Stream, Long Island, New York, Taylor is the second eldest child out of Alex and Selene Navarro’s four kids. Even as a little girl, Taylor had been gifted the sense of maturity better suited for sensible adults as she provided for her older brother and two younger sisters. Let’s explore some more about her life out and about.

The well-seasoned story of the Fever rookie, Celeste Taylor


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“Her brother Isaiah, he was hungry. And they couldn’t reach to get the bowls of cereal. She climbed on top of the cabinet, pulled everything down, and helped them. They made breakfast. We were sleeping in bed,” her father, Alex, said as per an SB Nation article from 2023, which very well put things in context.

She was naturally a carer and a leader who would look out for everyone around. As an elder sister, she would do all the things for her little sisters, like getting them dressed for school, and would also hang out with them just to check in if they were okay at school and everything. All these traits pointed toward her leadership qualities that later on benefitted her as a player.

Coming back to her display as a 9-year-old girl in a 14-year-old girls’ team, her parents saw there was more to Taylor’s personality whose love extended beyond her family to basketball. Hence, they embarked on a pursuit to hone that ability, and soon Celeste Taylor was training at Jerry Powell’s gym, a place known for working with NBA and WNBA players.

Interestingly, he was the father of Ohio State’s women’s basketball team’s current assistant coach, Jalen Powell. As a result, Jalen had already seen Taylor in fierce action from her early days. “She was in sixth or seventh grade, so she would like shoot it and it would like, break off the backboard. But she was so freaking athletic that it was just, like, absolutely ridiculous. She has an incredible motor and incredible work ethic, she doesn’t really get tired even if she is tired,” said Jalen, describing Taylor’s on-court strength even as a little girl.


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However, she wasn’t at the youth basketball level yet. As a result, Jerry and Jalen helped her improve her game. With the exponential curve, she grew and became an outstanding player, grabbing people’s attention at the local, state, and national levels. In seventh grade only, Taylor made it to the high school basketball team and won the Long Island Player of the Year consecutively from 2017 to 2019. During those three years, she went the extra mile and won gold three golds at the FIBA U19, U17, and U16 levels.

Those medals ranked her as one of the top 10 prospects in the country at the time and earned her different accolades as a part of the McDonald’s All-American team, likewise, playing in the Jordan Brand Classic, and winning the Gatorade New York Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor. As a high school senior, she averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game. Thereafter came the time for Celeste Taylor to go to college.

Taylor swallowing the bitter pill in the name of college

When it came to deciding on a suitable college program, Taylor and her parents were already in love with the Ohio State program. Despite having limited funds, the family paid twice to visit the program and see what the University had to offer.

However, Taylor’s fate fell on a shorthand, as her preferred program at Ohio State was not equipped to have her. So she ended up choosing Texas, thanks to the relationship she built with the Longhorns head coach, Karen Aston. As a freshman, Taylor bloomed at Texas, starting 26 games and appearing in 30 games for the program. She averaged 9.3 points and 4.8 rebounds while earning a spot on the All-Big 12 Freshman Team in 2020. Watering down her happiness, came in the pandemic followed by the NCAA postseason basketball.


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The Longhorns went under a change themselves as they didn’t renew Aston’s contract and appointed Vic Schaefer as their new head coach. She was now a sophomore who was again learning a new system and culture. She then made the hard call and entered the transfer portal after her dissatisfaction and an Elite Eight defeat at Texas.

She chose the Duke Blue Devils to play as a sophomore, again learning a new system and culture for the third time in three seasons. Her work ethic and skills led the refreshed program to a 13-2 record before she sustained an upper-body injury, resulting in Duke’s loss in 5 games reaching a 17-13 record and a second-round defeat in the ACC Tournament. Again, her team fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, that too on Duke’s home court itself.

She then finally went to play for Ohio State. Soon, everything worked out for her as Celeste Taylor was where she belonged from the start, as her mother puts it, “You can see the happiness. You can see how she’s enjoying it and it’s what she was looking for. To know that she’s in a good place, especially mentally, to be in such a good place, that’s all you want for your kids. Everything else will fall into place.”


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