Scott finds new confidence

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Last updated: 10/24/2012 4:55 PM

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Men's Basketball
With Newfound Confidence, Scott Could Push Buckeyes to New Heights

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a blur, he was gone.

Up the court, across the line, knifing through a sea of defenders.

Before anyone could react, he was at the basket, laying the ball softly off the glass and through the cylinder for a pair of easy points.

Only easy because Mike Conley Jr. made it look that way.

During his one and only season at Ohio State, Conley was one of the most exciting, explosive and dangerous point guards in the country. He may have been the fastest player, at least on the court, ever to wear the scarlet and gray, but OSU head coach Thad Matta believes he might have someone who could challenge that notion.

Shannon Scott
Photo by Jim Davidson
Shannon Scott

“I don’t know if anybody pushes the ball up the floor as quick as Shannon Scott can,” Matta said on Ohio State’s basketball media day.

“He gets the ball from Point A to Point B as well as I’ve seen.”

That doesn’t sound a lot like the Shannon Scott Ohio State fans got a glimpse of last year, when the highly-touted point guard out of Georgia struggled to find his footing as a freshman with the Buckeyes.

He certainly didn’t look much like Conley his freshman year, although both players helped their team reach the Final Four as rookies at Ohio State. While Conley looked like he had been playing the college game for years, Scott looked uncomfortable as the facilitator of the OSU offense.

“Yeah, at times,” he said, admitting his discomfort.

“You definitely don’t want to make mistakes when you’re out there, but Coach Matta talked to me about it. He just wants me to go out there and be the player he recruited out of high school, and I understand that now. I’m just going to try to do that and be all over the court.”

Scott’s athleticism is undeniable. In a recent 40-minute workout, the sophomore point guard grabbed eight steals against the first team, causing Matta to proclaim that his 6-1 guard could be the most disruptive backcourt player in the country this season.

Shannon Scott
Photo by Jim Davidson
Shannon Scott

“With everything he’s done in the offseason, he’s starting to have more confidence,” said Matta, who is entering his ninth season as the head basketball coach at Ohio State.

“He’s really starting to take that athleticism and put it to use. He played on great high school teams. We talked about it, if he didn’t play well, they were still going to win. They had eight other Division I players on the team, so they were going to be fine, but he seems to have a sense of urgency about him now.”

Scott came to Ohio State with just about every accolade imaginable. He was the Atlanta-Journal Constitution Player of the Year in 2011, a Jordan Brand All-American, Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year and the Atlanta Tip-Off Club Georgia Player of the Year.

He averaged 14 points and 7.4 assists as a senior at Milton High School, pitching in 4.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals to help the Eagles to a 29-3 record, including a 12-0 mark in conference play.

“In high school, I feel like I was more athletic then a lot of players, so I felt like I could get to anywhere I wanted on the court,” Scott said.

Shannon Scott
Photo by Jim Davidson
Shannon Scott

“If I really needed to get a basket, I would probably do some type of pull-up. I kind of went back to that this summer to make that a go-to move for me. I also worked on shooting threes and shooting open shots because I know that’s going to come this year.”

It certainly wasn’t a part of his game a year ago. In fact, Scott was a tremendous liability at the offensive end for most of the season. He shot just 28 percent from the floor and missed on 17 of his 18 attempts from behind the arc, along with seven of nine from the free throw line.

His confidence was shot and his mechanics were a mess, but Scott never panicked. Instead, he got with Chris Jent – the guy who coached LeBron James – during the offseason.

“We worked on shooting floaters, shooting one dribble pull ups, different types of finishes at the rim,” Scott said of the OSU assistant.

Shannon Scott
Photo by Jim Davidson
Shannon Scott

“He didn’t want us to focus on just shooting three pointers, he wants us to be able to create our own shot and create shots for others as well.”

That’s the definition of a point guard, especially in Matta’s offense, but Scott also had to work on another aspect of his game, one which could determine whether he really has a chance to be the kind of point guard Matta expected when he recruited him.

“He appears to have more confidence in what he’s doing, but I told him, you cant be a point guard and not speak,” Matta said.

“You have to say something, sometime. He’s got a different way about him. I’ve been extremely pleased with how he’s played consistently over the time we’ve been together.”

Because of the way Matta wants to play this year, Scott could be on the floor a lot. The Buckeyes want to push the tempo and get up and down the floor a lot more quickly than last season.

Without Jared Sullinger, a lot of the offense will be created by the defense, which is why Scott could finally see some meaningful time alongside Aaron Craft in the OSU backcourt.

“He wants me to be all over causing havoc, on offense and defense,” Scott said.

“On defense, he wants me to be stealing the ball and be in passing lanes, and on offense he wants me to push the ball up the court, create shots for others while making my own shots as well.”

If that happens, Scott may push more than just the tempo for the Buckeyes in 2012-13. He could also push the team to new heights.

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