ACC Preview: Clemson

<i>Inside Carolina</i> is previewing the ACC team-by-team as the season approaches. Today, the Clemson Tigers, with a spotlight feature on senior Edward Scott and quotes from Scott and head coach Larry Shyatt.

Spotlight: Edward Scott
by Paul Swann

One hundred and forty five pounds…soaking wet…with rocks in his pockets.

That is what Edward Scott weighed in his sophomore year of high school when he was rated in the Prepstars.com top 15. Fast, quick, ultra bouncy, and working off of a sterling performance at the Beachball Classic, Scott was one of the premiere guards in the country. His Hopkins (SC) Lower Richland HS team was ranked in the USA Today top 25 virtually every week starting from his junior season. Scott averaged nearly 20 ppg, and a bundle of assists over that same time period. In addition, that team had eight future college basketball players, five of whom went on to play Division I, and they won a SC state 4A championship along the way.

No one could have predicted what happened next. After all of that, Edward Scott's stock started dropping.

Huh?

Yeah.

As unbelievable as it might seem, his ranking went into a dramatic downward spiral that did not stop until he had fallen out of the top 100. Scott, the former 10th grade phenom who once had visions of offers from the elite programs of college basketball, was now eighteen years old and looking at Clemson as his best Division I offer.

Larry Shyatt's program is hardly the pits of collegiate hoops. But, for a kid who thought that every major school in the nation would be beating down his door come his senior year, the reality of his tarnished reputation was eye-opening. So, what happened?

It was a combination of things. Some were his fault, some were not, and still others were inexplicable.

First, Scott was a victim of simply being a good basketball player. In summer basketball, which is where national reputations are built, some guys are rewarded for being "selfish-shoot first" basketball players. Essentially, they jack up a lot of shots and showcase their scoring ability in an attempt to impress. Oftentimes, it works. While there is no mistaking that as a prepster Scott would take his attempts with the best of them, he usually took them within his high school and AAU team's structures. Out of his element at Nike and in some AAU events, he just was not offensively aggressive. That passiveness hurt him.

The other thing that did in his rep was a Slam Dunk to the Beach match-up with Andre Barrett and Kenny Satterfield. It wasn't pretty. All reports were that Scott and backcourt mate Eric Duggans (a four year starter at D-II USC-Aiken) were thoroughly outplayed. With all of the great talent evaluators present, as well as most of the elite college programs represented, Scott played poorly in a time where he really couldn't afford it.

His senior year Scott got his weight up to 155 pounds. So while his athletic ability, ball handling, and shooting were peerless at that level, his dreams of being one of the more highly touted players took a major hit when it was assumed that he was too light in the tail to make much of an impact at the upper echelons of college hoops.

Edward Scott is not a pouter. Type "good kid" into an MS Word document, highlight it, hit thesaurus, and his name will pop up. Though you mostly cannot tell just by watching his poker-faced demeanor on the court, Scott is an intense competitor.

His years at Clemson have been enjoyable only because he has had the opportunity to perform in the best conference in America. He ain't happy about all the losing, though. Lost in the midst of another mediocre season last year by the Tigers, was a third team All-ACC performance by the smooth point guard whom his friends know as Scotty.

The road to that level however, came after a ton of hard work. As an example of his work ethic, Scott arrived at Clemson the summer before his freshman year at the aforementioned 155 pounds. When basketball season started in October he was 190 pounds! He lived in the weight room, determined to prove his detractors wrong. Before he could burst on the scene like he would have hoped, Scott broke his foot early in pre-season and ended up hobbling through that campaign. Still, he had transformed what was an originally slight build, into an almost unrecognizable upper body packed with muscles and ripped with definition.

Despite playing in a backcourt with shoot-til-you-drop individuals like Will Solomon and Tony Stockman, his numbers have been solid. Particularly last year, and mostly as an assist man, he quietly showed he is an upper level ACC performer. He has a game that includes some spectacular offensive maneuvers, evidenced by his two thirty-point performances last year. But again, what Scott has truly done over his three-year career is distinguish himself as the conference's top playmaker. Technically, he came in second in total assists to Maryland's Steve Blake (they both averaged exactly 7.9 apg). Considering Blake played for the national champs and that Scott had far fewer scoring options at his disposal, it is easy to make the case that Scott was the best ball distributor, regardless of what the numbers say. Watching how he has operated with aplomb over his Clemson career, few would argue that the Terps would have been worse off had he held the reigns in College Park.

For the buffed up guard from Columbia, S.C., this is a crucial year. He has established himself as one of the best seniors in the league. Even though a shot at the NBA seemed out of reach four years ago, the likelihood of a final year of similar assists numbers coinciding with the possibility of a 15-16 ppg average make that notion not so unfeasible now. Scott has definite pro potential. He has the bulk, speed and athleticism to succeed at that level. More importantly he has the latent offensive skills to match. Blessed with a crafty handle, a deft touch on his pull-up J, and the creativity and ambidexterity to finish plays around the hoop, all he really needs is a stage to show those skills off. Shyatt will undoubtedly give him whatever light is a shade past green, so pulling off his professional audition should be cake.

Clemson will be better this year. The league is young overall and the Tigers have experience where you need it most---the point and the post (Chris Hobbs). They also gained some much needed shooting in foreign born Julian Betko, as well as some more perimeter depth in highly regarded combo guard Shawan Robinson and swing athlete Ori Ichaki.

Plus, Clemson added by subtraction. The mercurial Stockman was reportedly never really comfortable in Tiger Town and though he made some big shots in his two years in South Carolina's upstate, a lot of those shots were bad ones and did nothing to create team harmony. Scott should benefit greatly by getting to gobble up his share of the shots Stockman has left on the table. The unselfish senior is also considerably more apt to take those shots with better judgment, thereby helping the team's chemistry and putting them in better position to compete in the league.

Edward Scott…is a guy who bears watching in 2002-03.

Edward Scott Quotes

On having experience inside coming back

Oh that's a huge advantage for us. Ray [Henderson] and Chris Hobbs and Sharrod Ford got a lot of valuable minutes for us last year. Tomas Nagys contributed. We has a whole lot of experience coming back. And a lot of talent.

Everything seems much smoother since Tony [Stockman] left. Is that the case?

Well, definitely. Me and Chey [Christie], we play better together. We work off each other. Tony was more of a guy that came off a screen and hit the jumpshots. He basically set up for that play. Christie is a guy that create his own shot.

If you had to pick one guy, not yourself, that was going to step up for Clemson this year, who would that be?

Well, I think the team as a whole can step up. But if I had to pick one player, I would have to say Chey Christie. A lot of people don't know about him. We have worked a lot together and gotten better.

Is that who you shot with all the time this summer?

It wasn't him all the time, but he was my most consistent partner.

Why do you think he's improved?

First of all, the work ethic. I felt like I had a desire to get better and he really shared that with me. He motivated him on the days I didn't want to do anything and I motivated on those other days. I think he put the time in there and hopefully it's paid off.

You came in a played a bunch as a freshman point guard. Can you talk about the challenges facing the new guys in the league coming in?

It is a great challenge. Unfortunately, my freshman year, I was injured. I broke my foot early and had to overcome that. To be playing against skilled guys like Jason Williams and Ed Cota my freshman year, I got taught a lot of valuable lessons (laughter). So, it's a learning experienced and I don't think you can come in a try to dominate as a freshman unless you are someone like Jason Williams.

Is it more physical or is it a mental thing?

It's unusual but it's a combination of both. You can't be good in one area. You can have the physical skills but you have to have the mental skills with it. You have got to find a way to not only utilize your talent but find other ways like understanding the game, understanding the players you are playing with. Ways to get them in their game to be successful. So it's a combination of mental and physical.

Is there an aspect of the game that gave you the most trouble as a freshman?

Well, being hurt helped me to mature more. I wasn't able to run around and be quicker than people. I had to study the game and understand the game more and be able to realize [what other guys needed to be successful] and utilize that.

Larry Shyatt Quotes

On dealing with types of players

Some guys are very good with high-risk guys. I am not a high-risk guy. I don't do a good job coaching high-risk players. It took a while to find that out. I would never mention any names, but be it social problems, academic problems or attitude problems, I am better with perhaps even a little less talent, but yet a little bit better personal work ethic.

What I found out was I can coach and work with and get more out of people with less ability and a better work ethic than I would otherwise and therefore I think our recruiting the past two years has gone in that direction.

Why is that?

I don't know. Uniquely I have found that out about myself. It's an evolution of five years being a head coach. If I had been a head coach fifteen years, I might have found out about it ten years ago.

What can we expect out of Clemson this year?

Well, the biggest two question marks, personnel wise would be our two wing positions because we are very talented but inexperienced. [Olu] Babalola and [Chey] Christie and behind them two freshmen. Our defense has to be improved as team. Those are the two most important question marks. The strengths are, certainly, we are one of the strongest if not the strongest team in this league at the point guard and interior positions. We lead this league in rebounding with all four of our players back and two more big ones coming in. Edward Scott, in my humble estimation, is the finest point guard in the country. So that is a great place to start. How good we play at the wings and how well we defend will probably determine how high we can finish.


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