For those reasons, tomorrow is a big game.
But it is bigger for Ohio State one-time Tar Heel supporter Shannon Scott. The senior point guard’s father, Charlie Scott, was the first African-American scholarship athlete at UNC, starring on the hard wood from 1967-1970.
“I’ll know more about how I feel Saturday when it actually happens,” Shannon Scott said on Dec. 16 when asked to look ahead to the UNC game.
Charlie Scott led North Carolina to two Final Fours and was named the Atlantic Coastal Conference Player of the Year his senior season when he averaged 27.1 points per game. He was the ABA rookie of the year in 1971 and set the league’s single-season scoring record the following year. He also won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 1976.
“Shannon’s a Buckeye, Mr. Scott’s a Tar Heel,” head coach Thad Matta said. “I know who Mr. Scott will be rooting for on Saturday. I think from that perspective it’s a little bit odd.”
While he grew up in Georgia, Shannon Scott is no stranger to North Carolina. When he went to the campus as a child, it first began to dawn on the younger Scott the influence that his father had.
“We used to go to North Carolina a lot, probably three or four times a year,” Shannon Scott told BSB before Ohio State’s season started. “When we would go up there I would really see the impact that he made. The fans, no matter how old they were, they knew who he was and the type of impact that he had. That was the main thing that really showed me what type of guy he was and what type of impact he made for that school.”
With the impression his father made on the school, it was thought that the younger Scott would also become a Tar Heel. Charlie Scott told BSB before the season that he thought his son belonged at UNC during the recruiting process, but that the “most important thing was where he wanted to go and where he was most comfortable.”
For Shannon Scott, that wasn’t North Carolina.
“When I was like four or five I wanted to play there,” he said. “Later on in my life I realized it would be a better fit for me to go somewhere else and be my own person instead of trying to be my dad’s son at North Carolina.”
Scott now gets the opportunity to play against his father’s former team as part of a two-game event in Chicago. While it’s a big game for a multitude of reasons, head coach Thad Matta said he hopes the game isn’t two big for his point guard. Scott agreed.
“I want to treat it as another game,” Scott said. “I know once the game starts it probably won’t feel that way, but our biggest goal is just to get a win that day. It’s just another game for us and another chance that we can get better and play against a great team.”