In Aaron Craft, Ohio State already possesses arguably the Big Ten's most valuable and established point guard. But in Shannon Scott, the Buckeyes could also have the conference's hidden gem when it comes to hardwood quarterbacks.
Scott isn't exactly unheard of around the league, given his former status as a McDonald's High School All-American and current title of All-Big Ten defender. But between playing behind Craft and an admitted lack of confidence in his offensive game, the Alpharetta, Ga. has best been known for his defense, as well as smattering spurts of offensive efficiency.
That all could change this season, however, as Scott has showcased an improved jump shot in the months leading up to the start of his junior season. The 6-1, 185-pounder has been so impressive, in fact, that Ohio State head coach Thad Matta inserted him into the Buckeyes' starting lineup alongside Craft for their preseason exhibition against Walsh, where Scott scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out four assists.
"Shannon has been phenomenal leading to this just in terms of how he has practiced," Matta said. "He's shooting the ball. He's making shots. As he does, he's taken great care of the basketball and has made the guys around him better. I've been very, very pleased with the growth he's made."
The former four-star prospect said that he's not only put a stronger emphasis on making more shots, but taking smarter ones as well. It may not have been evident in his 4-for-12 shooting performance against the Cavaliers, but Scott looked as good as advertised in an open inter-squad held on Oct. 22, sinking three 3-point shots and taking Craft to the bucket for a successful lay-in.
"I worked with my shot selection a lot," Scott said. "I think I've done a great job. I think more this year I'll be taking better shots and controlled shots rather than quick shots."
Whether or not Scott will remain in the Ohio State starting lineup for its season opener against Morgan State on Saturday remains to be seen. Matta admitted that figuring out who will make up his first five is still a work in progress at this point, and that Scott's three turnovers against Walsh were a disappointing unofficial start to his junior campaign.
"A couple of times he made some mistakes that he normally doesn't make," Matta said. "Hopefully he can shake that off."
Regardless of if he's being introduced at the start of the game or coming off the bench, it's clear that it will be hard for Matta to keep Scott off the floor this season given his exponential growth as an offensive weapon. In a league that features some of the country's top point guards, Matta could enjoy the luxury of having two of them this season, and certainly doesn't have any qualms about playing Craft and Scott simultaneously for extended stretches.
"From what we saw last year when we used it, it obviously was very effective," Matta said of his two-point guard lineup. "Shannon and Aaron together is a very good combination."