People behave differently depending on their personalities. Athletes are no different. Some are fond of the publicity, whether they admit it or not, while others can do without it. Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince prefers nothing short of the latter. A low-profile lifestyle is everything Prince is and how he likes to be perceived. His preference makes it easier to overlook his success and progress—but that won't change who he is.
“It’s just about being locked in,” Prince told HawksHoop. “Knowing what your end goal is and what you really want. Perception is everything. So, if I sit here and I’m in the clubs every night or even twice a week, and everybody in the A is looking at what I’m doing, they will feel some type of way. ‘Damn, he playing for our city but he in the club every night.’ I don’t want that perception from the city or from anybody.”
The 24-year old family man wants nothing more than to grow as a player and provide for his loved ones. If you slide through his Instagram stories, it's mostly videos and pictures of two things—basketball and his daughter. Nothing unusual, but very real and true to who Taurean is to a tee. Last season, he improved in every single major statistical category. He increased his points per game by 9 points and increased his free throw and 3-point percentage by 6 percent each.
Fruits of his labor—but that's just one step, and there's much more to accomplish. So, when the Hawks season came to an end, he felt it was necessary to seek out one of the best trainers to take his game to another level—Drew Hanlen.
Hanlen’s popularity has skyrocketed over the years, with plenty of video footage showing his workout sessions with A-list clients like Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, and Bradley Beal. Prince wanted to submerge himself in that environment because of what it could turn him into.
"I sent him a text message saying I feel like he is somebody that can get me to that next level,” Prince told HawksHoop. “I asked him was he willing to help me perfect my craft. He said yes, and we went from there.
“He really teaches you the game from a different perspective. The way you never thought of it before as far as ball handling. Getting the person guarding you off balance. Being able to read and react faster. But mostly just doing a lot of the little stuff that makes a huge difference.”
Fine tuning the fundamental parts of your skillset is a primary key to becoming the player you aspire to be instead of remaining the player you are. Last season, Prince showed us his ability to score off the dribble, both in pick n’ roll scenarios and without the ball—glimpses that were there in his rookie year, but nothing compared to his production during his sophomore campaign. He took advantage of a more prominent role last season. But, when you’re losing 2-3 times a week, nobody cares, and nobody knows.
The improvements were there if you paid attention. If you opted not to, it doesn’t concern Prince in the slightest. He sets the opinions of his teammates and competitors above anyone—and not an ounce of that will change going into next season. As far as personal goals, the theme for his third go-around is all about respect, with a bullet point of “money to be made” as a reminder underneath that.
“This year is more about putting my peers on notice than anything,” Prince told HawksHoop. “I’m not too worried about the GMs and all of those things. It’s about earning the respect of the people around me. The ones I interact more with than front office people. I see players more than I see the GMs and the coaches. Earning the respect of my peers is something I really expect to do this season. On top of that, this could be a life-changing season, because this could turn into me being an 80-100-million-dollar guy. Who knows what the future holds. I plan to do well. I am working pretty hard.”
Discreet in his pursuit and invisible to the masses—that is the intersection Prince has found himself in most of his life. Many hoopers wouldn’t subscribe to that lifestyle.
When Prince shrugs off concerns about possibly being forgotten, as a new Hawks era begins, despite making strides in his game last season, you honestly believe it doesn’t bother him. He’s not trying to put on a facade or play up to some perception. The perception is who he is, but also a result of what he’s had to accept and experience.
“You talking to somebody who was top 10-15 in his state but was headed to Long Island University,” Prince told HawksHoop. “Other guys were going to Kentucky, like the Harrison twins. Marcus Smart and Phil Forte going to Oklahoma State. I’ve done the work and not gotten the credit for it. Last year, I felt like I was the most improved player. I increased my totals in every category. But it’s okay. If I really spend my time worrying about what they say then I’ll be dead from mental illness.”
Well, right now they’re saying Trae Young is the face of the franchise, no question. Occasionally, that can rub young returning players like Prince the wrong way. Occasionally being the operative word there—Prince takes no issues with the hype Young has brought to the A.
“In the end, all the eyes that are on him [Trae] are on me, too, so I ain't tripping,” Prince told HawksHoop. “I’m low maintenance and don’t need anyone's approval.”
Trading Dennis Schroder and drafting Trae Young, Omari Spellman, and Kevin Huerter has officially jump-started a new chapter for Atlanta basketball. Excitement is building and next year’s draft—consisting of guys like RJ Barrett, Zion Williamson, and Cam Reddish—only adds to the optimism. However, in the meantime, there is importance in enduring the struggles and staying dedicated to the grind along the way. The team is likely headed for another season of growing pains.
“I’ve been through hard times in life, and I know the best feeling is when I came out of that,” Prince told HawksHoop. “Without the dark, there is no light. Those who are the strong ones are the ones who survive. They are the ones that will be holding up Eastern Conference championships and NBA championships. It may be down the road, but I know success is coming our way. Just like every team. Every team has their runs. Every team has their moment where they go through hard times, it just so happens to be ours. That doesn’t mean we need to crumble under the pressure that's added; we just need to work harder to get back to where the Atlanta Hawks and the City of Atlanta knows it can be.”
A young player’s third year is pivotal, and for Prince it’s no exception. He tracked down Drew Hanlen for a reason, tightening his fundamentals and retooling his skillset for what looks to be a important season for the future trajectory of his career. However, he's going about it his way—the only way he knows. He’s not flooding your timeline with workout videos. He’s not continually tweeting about how he’s going to dominate this next season. He works, stays low-key, and is grounded in his faith.
“I live for the people around me being happy,” Prince told HawksHoop. “All the recognition will come because I know it for a fact. Everything I say I speak into existence. The people around will tell you anything I say I will get or do—I get it or I do it. I know what God has in store for me and what he’s preparing me for, to be able to deal with.”