Scott brings a defensive mindset to ASU

The Arizona State basketball season officially kicked off Thursday with its annual media day. Amidst the hoopla, it was easy to spot newcomer Roosevelt Scott. His child-like exuberance was apparent throughout the event, whether he was joking with teammates, smiling for pictures or answering the onslaught of questions from reporters.

But don’t let the smile fool you. The 6-4 junior guard is all business when he steps onto the court.

Scott, a transfer from Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College, is expected to play a pivotal role for the Sun Devils this upcoming season.

“He’s a tremendous athlete with great speed,” said ASU assistant coach Barrett Peery, who was also Scott’s head coach at Indian Hills last season. “You’ll notice that he’s a high-energy player who always plays with great effort.”

That trademark effort dates back to his school days, when he starred for St. Paul (Minn.) Johnson High. However, despite having a solid prep career, he was shunned by Division-1 schools, and was forced to go the JUCO route.

“When you’re not recruited like you should be, it’s a very humbling experience,” Scott said. “But it just made me more focused and hungry.”

Ultimately, the detour to the junior college ranks was a blessing in disguise.

He became acquainted with coach Peery, whom he identifies as a mentor and father figure. He also had an opportunity to play on a loaded Indian Hills team that eventually lost in the NJCAA championship game last season.

Scott averaged a team-high 17.5 points per game on arguably the best JUCO team in the country last year, but made an even bigger impact on the defensive end, where he was often matched up against the opposing team’s top perimeter player.

“I just take my pride in playing tough defense,” Scott stated. “I don’t mind doing the dirty work. If I need to dive on the floor for loose balls, I’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

This season, he is expected to anchor a revamped ASU defense, which is looking to extend the floor with more pressing and trapping schemes. Head coach Herb Sendek spent the offseason watching film of Louisville, VCU and Wichita State – all teams known for their frenetic style of play.

With Scott in the fold, Sendek has a player who thrives in an up-tempo style. “He can make a lot of plays in the open court both offensively and defensively,” Peery added. “He personifies how Coach [Sendek] wants to play on both ends of the floor this season.”

In addition to his versatility, Scott possesses a tireless work ethic, which became immediately evident when he arrived on campus in late May. Less than a week after graduating from community college in Iowa, Scott was in Tempe for voluntary workouts with fellow newcomers Savon Goodman and Willie Atwood.

The trio were constant fixtures at the team’s practice facility this summer, prompting this funny tweet from ASU Media Relations Director Doug Tammaro: “Not sure we need to have @Rolex_roe and @thelastchill and @SavonGoodman11 get housing. Dudes NEVER leave Weatherup Center.”

For Scott, it was simply business as usual. “That’s what it’s all about – getting in the gym and working,” he said. “You have to grind hard every day if you want to improve.”

And all the extra work is beginning to pay off for Scott, who improved his strength and conditioning over the summer, and developed a more consistent three point and midrange game.

However, the highlight of the summer may have been the pick-up games against various NBA players including ASU alum James Harden and members of the Phoenix Suns.

Playing against the likes of Harden is a glaring reminder of how far he has come over the last few years. And that is not lost on Scott, who is intent on making the most of his opportunity at ASU.

With a new season on the horizon, Scott is chomping at the bit and eager to begin his ASU career. He is optimistic about this year’s squad and thinks they could surprise a few people.

“It’s a hungry group of guys and I love that,” he said. “You can count on this team to give a hundred percent every night. We won’t be a one-man team, but instead we have a lot of guys that can contribute.”

As far as individual goals for this season, the extremely confident Scott did not hesitate to offer a response.

“I want to be the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and help us return to the [NCAA] Tournament,” he said.

In order to make a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, the Sun Devils may just need an extraordinary defensive effort. Luckily, they may just have the right guy to lead the attack.

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