FORTVILLE — Often so consumed by the present, Mt. Vernon head coach Travis Daugherty admits he rarely spends much time dwelling on the past. ¶ But in those brief moments when he does allow his mind to wonder, all he has to do is look out on the Marauders’ practice floor or in the huddle on game night. ¶ There, Mt. Vernon assistant coach Taylor Wayer and his younger brother, 6-foot senior guard Miles Wayer, serve as a reminder.
“It’s fun to think about when Miles was the little guy delivering water to his brother Taylor and the other players during a timeout (at Bishop Chatard), and now he’s the guy sitting there on the bench trying to win the game,” Daugherty said. “It’s been a lot of fun, the connection with their family, and I’m sure as we get older and Miles moves on, we’ll have a chance to reflect more. It will be a fun time to look back.”
For Taylor, 24, and Miles, 18, the past, present and future coincide on a daily basis.
In his first year as an assistant coach on Daugherty’s staff, Taylor, who went on to become a walk-on at Indiana University for coach Tom Crean’s Hoosiers after graduating from Bishop Chatard in 2010, credits both his mentor and his younger sibling for his current situation.
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Miles feels the same, recalling his journey from sixth-grade “ball boy” on the sidelines to high school varsity starter for the two men he holds in high regard.
“We started off with us three on the bench, and now we’re ending it with us three on the bench, just in different roles,” Miles remarked. “It’s pretty special.”
Playing for his brother in his final prep basketball season mostly is, said Miles, except for those occasional tough love situations when Taylor’s coaching hat takes precedent.
Not that he wasn’t warned ahead of time.
“We have a cousin that’s on the JV team here, too, and I told them both the same thing, especially Miles. It’s brother and best friend outside of practice, but once we get here it’s coach,” Taylor said. “Instead of me showing favoritism, I’m probably harder on him than on the other guys. That’s just me being the coach and the brother I need to be.”
The siblings’ relationship and the addition of Wayer to the staff has made an impact on all of the players, according to Daugherty.
At 16-2 on the season and riding an eight-game winning streak, it’s difficult to argue the facts with the Class 4A Marauders surging late with just four regular-season games left on the schedule.
Falling in line with the Wayer’s three unwritten pillars of faith, family and basketball, the team’s success stems from each, but none can exist alone.
“Those three things have infiltrated our program and have defined who we’ve become,” Daugherty said. “When you’re a part of a team, you’re really part of a family. And that’s what we want, playing here to be. Just like any family there are always challenges, but there is a connection this team has together that has been critical.”
Family from the beginning
Growing up in the Fishers Geist area, Taylor Wayer came up through Saint Simon the Apostle in Indianapolis, a feeder school for Bishop Chatard.A multisport athlete like Miles, Taylor played baseball, football, ran track and had a quick stint as a tennis player before he zeroed in on basketball at the high school level.
Their parents, Michelle and Tom, paved the way for both brothers and their sister, Julia, who was a standout junior volleyball player for the 2015-16 sectional champion Mt. Vernon Marauders.
As an athlete at Norwell High School, Michelle often carted each of the kids around for practices as they pursued their passion with Julia and Miles advancing their through the MSN Lawrence Township school district prior to the family’s move to McCordsville and Mt. Vernon.
Taylor finished out at Bishop Chatard where he met Daugherty as a senior after the coach spent five seasons at Tipton before his four-year run with the Trojans.
The two immediately connected. Taylor, who stands 5-10, went on to earn his third varsity letter in basketball, averaging 18 points and three assists a game.
Named team MVP by Daugherty for his hard-nosed work ethic, the scrappy guard was elected to the All-City Tournament team and was a preseason All-State selection.
When Taylor started looking at his college prospects, Daugherty, who coached Indiana All-Star Derek Elston at Tipton, played a role as IU offered a walk-on opportunity the fall of 2010.
“I just remember at IU with coach Crean, part of the reason he had me come on as a walk was not only because he liked my game, but he made it very clear that he knew I understood the fundamentals because I played for coach Daugherty,” Taylor recalled. “That’s a really strong message when you have college guys recognize the name and associate it with preparing guys for that level.”
Surviving a grueling tryout in Bloomington, Taylor stuck with the Hoosiers for four years (2010-14), becoming and Academic All-Big Ten player three times.
“He was one of those guys I knew if he was given an opportunity, it would become what it became,” Daugherty said. “When we started having conversations with IU, my hope was that they would give that to him because he had the qualities as not only a player but as a person that they would want as part of their team.”
Setting an example
Miles paid close attention to Taylor’s progress at IU while still in grade school.Invited by his brother to attend games and practices, Miles got a first-hand look at what it took to become a high-level player.After seeing coach Daugherty guide his older sibling to the Big Ten Conference, he had to make a tough choice before entering high school.
Wanting to continue the tradition and play for coach Daugherty, who was still at Chatard, Miles instead opted to stay in the Mt. Vernon district where he had developed strong friendships with his current teammates.
The decision paid dividends as Mt. Vernon pushed onto the Class 3A semistate his freshman year with a 24-2 record under former head coach Steve Lynch.
Then, came momentary regret as Lynch stepped down after the season.
“Before his sophomore year he called me upset. He really liked the former coach here, and at the time I knew coach Daugherty was a possibility, since we spoke on the phone quite a bit,” Taylor said. “I told Miles, ‘I think everything is going to work out. Just keep doing your thing.’ Oddly enough, it worked out. He got the best of both worlds.”
Only got better
With Daugherty at the helm, Miles flourished.As a sophomore, he averaged 8.0 points per game, then 10.6 as a junior. He was deadly from the perimeter, shooting 43 percent from 3-point range last year (43-for-113).Where he excelled was outside the boxscore, much like his brother.
“Both of them are just lights out shooters. That’s the thing people probably notice first about both,” Daugherty said. “But more important, I think both had a real willingness to do some of the dirty work that maybe some other players kind of marginalize or dismiss.
“Both of them are the first guys on the floor fighting for a loose ball or always willing to take a charge. As great as it is to knock down a 3-pointer, some of those toughness, intangible plays make the difference.”
Reuniting with his brother Taylor amplified Miles’ game.
After graduating from IU with a degree in sports marketing and management, Taylor worked at ProTrans International as an account executive.
With ambitions to become a coach, Taylor split his hectic schedule to become the founder and director of player development at Competitive Greatness, an organization focused on high-level basketball training.
This past summer he became the coach of Indiana Faith 2016, an AAU team that Miles joined after spending several years with Indiana Elite. Trained by Taylor, Miles and fellow Mt. Vernon senior Michael Thompson caught a glimpse of the elder Wayer’s style and potential.
Once Taylor changed jobs, joining Ertel & Company as a health insurance and employee benefits advisor, freeing up his schedule to coach high school ball, a window opened that Daugherty couldn’t ignore.
“I begged him,” Daugherty joked. “That’s probably the easiest answer. He had some opportunities to work at other places. I think, obviously, they have a strong family bond and with Miles here, I know that was an important part of his decision to join our staff. I knew he would be an asset to our program and I was as persistent as I could be to get him on board.”
Whenever he’s on the floor, Miles goes 100 percent, but never more so than when Taylor is his opponent.“Me and him since I was little, we’ve always played one-on-one against each other whether it’s basketball, video games or whatever. We both have that competitive edge with each other,” Miles said. “But it also helps connect us because that’s just how we are, especially with basketball.“He used to win, but I’m afraid to say the younger brother has taken control of that now.”
While Taylor doesn’t exactly agree, he reluctantly confesses the obvious.
Though Taylor sticks to games of 21 against Miles these days, with the younger Wayer playfully saying it’s because he’s “too old,” the two shoot every chance they get.
Working Miles and his teammates in drills he learned from coach Crean and from his time in Bloomington, one of the duo’s favorites is the five-minute 3-point drill.
Challenged to hit as many 3-pointers as possible in that span, Miles hasn’t touched former Indiana Mr. Basketball Jordan Hulls’ 84 of 88, but he beat Taylor’s 69 with a 72.
“When college coaches call me, I have to be truthful as a coach. As hard as it is to admit it, I do think he’s a little bit better of a shooter than I was,” Taylor said. “He actually does do some things better than I did at that point in my career.”
His leadership is just one of the many things Miles brings to the court, said Daugherty, but there’s a reason for it.
“Having faith in different parts of life is a big thing for kids, especially these kids trying to play college basketball,” Taylor said. “Having faith in your teammates, yourself and the coaching staff are all key. With a team with this much talent believing in each other is what we’re trying to do to maximize and help them reach their potential.
“I’ll probably always look at Miles as my 12-year-old brother,” Taylor added. “But there will be things he does on the court and I’ll step back and say, ‘that’s pretty nice.’”