As Shannon Scott Goes, So Goes the Buckeyes

By Alex on December 10, 2012 at 2:00p

Coming into the 2012-13 men's basketball season, it appeared that the key to Ohio State making a return trip to the Final Four would be Deshaun Thomas's ability to put put up points, as well as Aaron Craft's improvement on the offensive side of the floor.

Scott has confidence this seasonShannon Scott could be the key to an OSU run

Fans quickly learned that Thomas would get his points and Craft appears to be more of an offensive threat than in his first two years with the program.

More importantly, it was also learned that it wouldn't be these two players that were the key to the team getting to Atlanta in late March, but rather how the other members of Thad Matta's squad would step up to supplement what Thomas and Craft bring to the table.

LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith Jr. are certainly two players who have stepped up so far this season, as they are averaging 10.3 and 11.0 points per game, respectively, but have been inconsistent, often times disappearing in the middle of games.

Sam Thompson has done his part, filling the stat sheet and showcasing a series of epic dunks, but is limited outside of the paint on offense and putting the ball on the floor.

The combination up front of Evan Ravenel and Amir Williams has been underwhelming at this point in the year, showing flashes of brilliance at times, only to be followed up with a lack of intensity that leads to easy baskets for opponents or missed opportunities to score on the other end of the floor.

The one player unmentioned that has been surprisingly the most consistent throughout this season and could be the key to another Big Ten title run for this Ohio State team is sophomore PG Shannon Scott.

Shannon Scott, 6-1/185, came to Ohio State as a freshman last season after starring at Alpharetta (GA) Milton High School and for the Georgia Kings nationally ranked AAU team. He was a McDonald's All-American and a four-star prospect, rated as high as the sixth best point guard in the nation by Scout, ESPN Scout's Inc., and 247 Sports.

Scott was expected to come into the rotation last season as a true freshman and provide quality minutes off the bench in relief of Aaron Craft, possibly playing alongside him at times to give the OSU backcourt a different look.

As the son of former UNC star and NBA player Charlie Scott, Shannon had a great grasp for the mental part of the game, to go along with his excellent ball-handling skills and ability to penetrate to create on offense, making it easy for people to assume he would pick up the college game quickly.

Things did not go according to plan for Shannon though, as the next level was more of an adjustment than he thought. As a freshman he averaged just over 10 minutes per game, scoring 1.2 points and notching 1.7 assists per contest.

Craft teaching Scott something about effortScott has earned an "A" for effort this season

The stats look like nothing to be concerned with for the naked eye, but those who watched Scott had to be concerned with how he would pan out in Columbus. The freshman looked extremely tentative when inserted into the game and it was clear he lacked confidence, especially on the offensive end of the floor.

That showed, as he averaged a turnover a game in his limited minutes and shot just 28.2% overall from the field, including a putrid 5.6% from three-point range and 22% from the free-throw line.

Coming into this season, Scott was sort of the forgotten man on the roster. Everyone was focused on how Amir Williams would solidify the center position or how LaQuinton Ross could be the number two scoring threat for the team, but not many paid attention to the point guard from Georgia who was a gym rat all summer long, working to improve his game and exhibiting the advanced comfort he showed in games towards the end of the season.

The results can't fully be shown in numbers just yet, but the signs are there. Scott is averaging about 20 minutes per game so far this season and is scoring 6 points, grabbing 2.3 rebounds and dishing out 4.7 assists per contest. He notched his first career double-double against UMKC on November 23 with 10 points and 10 assists and has improved his field goal percentage to 42.1% overall this year, shooting 33.3% from behind the arc and 66.7% from the charity stripe.

Using the naked eye test once again, Scott is clearly more confident with the basketball in his hands. He certainly can become more consistent shooting the ball, but he drives the lane with assertiveness, shoots much more frequently, and has become a floor general when in the game.

His improved play and confidence has allowed Matta to insert him in the lineup alongside Craft, giving Scott the responsibility of handling the ball so that the team can take advantage of Craft's enhanced offensive skill set.

More importantly than his contributions on offense, Scott has proven to be a lockdown defender. Overshadowed by the media's (much deserved) love affair with Craft's defensive prowess, Scott has proven to be just as pesky of a defender for opponents to go up against, and he has proven it in the box score, averaging about two steals per game so far this season.

Thad Matta has seen successful in the past using multiple point guards on the court at the same time and fans should expect to see more of this going forward as Scott continues to improve his game with experience.

The key to winning in college basketball has always been good guard play, and if the rising sophomore star continues to play like he has, not only will he provide a big boost to this year's Buckeye team in pursuing another Big Ten title, but he could be the key to fueling another deep run into the NCAA Tournament come March.


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RedStorm45's picture

Craft's enhanced offensive skill set? Lol.
He's a nice piece, but the team will go as their scorers go...namely if Thomas and Ross can score efficiently.

Alex's picture

Yea Craft is much better offensively this season, allowing him to play off ball

RedStorm45's picture

I realize its a small sample size with just 7 games, but he has career lows in shooting % and 3 point %.  He's I would guess 30% on contested shots inside of 6 feet...the last few games anyway.  Duke game showed little to no improvement from him on that end of the floor.  Like I said, it's still early.

Alex's picture

he was awful shooting the ball in the Duke was the rest of the team...can't always look at stats...his ability to take the ball to the hoop and confidence in shots/shot selection has improved greatly....also ball movement has become much faster and watch him just outmuscle guys now when running up the court...

RedStorm45's picture

Don't really care about shot selection if he's well under 40%.  I think putting him off the ball puts 2 guys who are dreadful shooters from any distance outside of 12 feet ( and a third with whoever is playing the 5).

Alex's picture

I wouldn't call Craft a dreadful shooter outside of 12 feet...the 3/15 in the Duke game really hurt him....and 2/9 against NKU didn't help much either....but his frosh year he was 46% and last year he was 50% from the field, including 37.7% and 35.9% from behind the arc respectively...this year he is 34.6% from 3-point land and let's remember we are only 7 games in, meaning those two poor games are really skewing his stats...take those two games out and he's at 47.5% for the rest of the season...not saying he's all world but by end of the year there's no way you won't be able to say he's a better offensive player than he was the previous two years....his average of 11 PPG this year is probably around where he'll be with some games of 16 or so and some games of 6 depending on what we need him to score

RedStorm45's picture

His 11 ppg are coming from a huge increase in FG attempts per game - I think he's up to 9 or 10 shot attempts per game.  I'm not disagreeing that he hasn't improved, but it's more like he's gone from average to maybe slightly above average.  He airballed a floater from 5 feet on Saturday.  He has 2 or 3 layups a game that are out of control and basically hit the top of the backboard and that's it.  I don't think he's the guy the team should be asking to shoulder some of the scoring needed.  The Scott/Craft combo basically leaves your shooters as D.T. and whoever is at the 3, and it better not be Thompson.  Anyway, I guess Craft is more aggressive so far this year, but he's not hitting his shot any more consistently than last season.  That's kind of what you need him to do if he's going to play that much off the ball.
With the emergence of Ross on the offensive end, I don't know if Scott is as big of a driver as you describe.  Sure, his contributions will be nice, but I think the team would do just as well if Craft played 35+ minutes and got Ross a lot of minutes at the 3/4.

bhartman13's picture

Craft's shot is awful at times but I think his overall offensive game has improved.  However I would like to see Craft go to the rack more and be more aggressive with the dribble drive.
As for Scott I really like the improvements he made in the offseason and when he gets out on a fast break watch out cuz that kid can fly!  I wish his outside shot was better but with work I think he can become a very good scorer and consistently knock down jumpers.  Scott has great court vision and has done an excellent job of setting up his teammates for easy buckets or open looks.  The Sophs are all looking pretty solid and by the end of the season the depth may be a dangerous advantage for the Buckeyes!

Jugdish's picture

I have not really seen the advantage of playing Scott and Craft at the same time. They both are great PGs, but this keeps a rebounder or scorer off the court. I agree that Scott has shown great improvement over last year. He is almost as good as Craft on defense, but Scott has a little better scoring touch imo. I want to keep the rotation of the bigs in the game. We need those offensive rebounds which Craft or Scott cannot give us.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

Alex's picture

#1 on the defensive end is where you see the advantage.....#2 is it allows Craft to play off ball and also gives two points of your point though it depends who we take off the floor..we're going to have Amir or Rav in so that's center...DT will be in at the it is either Thompson, Ross, or Smith in at the 3....if it's Smith, yes you lose the rebounding a bit, but if it's the other two you are fine IMO

lwitters's picture

Dude.  Chill out with the ellipses.  

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I have not really seen the advantage of playing Scott and Craft at the same time . . . I want to keep the rotation of the bigs in the game.

I want whatever rotation the coaches think is best at any given moment, based on their expert assessments of match ups, strategies, etc.

GABuckeye's picture

I'm really disappointed in Amir Williams thus far.  It just looks like he hasn't developed any sort of offensive game.  

tennbuckeye19's picture

The one good thing though is that he's hitting free throws this year. He is shooting them at about 50% so far, which I don't have to tell you is tons better than the 18% he shot last year in limited minutes. 

Alex's picture

you can't teach toughness and that is what Amir lacks IMO....also he is not very coordinated...Greg Oden works with him in practice as do the just all needs to click for him but he has to WANT it

bhartman13's picture

It really is all about wanting it more than the other guys on the court and Amir seems to lack that intensity but has shown some flashes.  If he can crash the boards like he did against Duke and play with fire like he did against Cuse in the tourney last year then the Buckeyes could have themselves a dominant big man.

BuddhaBuck's picture

Sometimes he looks like Bambi, a newborn fawn running around out there on the court.
Other times, he's out there posterizing defenders like Oden did.

Don't text while driving.

Bolt's picture

I'd liken him more so to a giraffe than Bambi, personally.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Nice piece, Alex.
Shannon Scott is very quick and fast, with cat-like reactions. Scott + Craft pairing will put nightmarish pressure on opposing guards, especially inexperienced guards who have shaky ball handling with a SG only moderately taller than Scott. If Scott can hit his open threes, this combo could become really fun to watch.
Against certain opposing guards, of course, the Craft + Scott pairing probably won't favor the Buckeyes. For example, if the opposing SG is a 6'6 or 6'7 top line scorer (e.g. Tim Hardaway Jr. or Victor Oladipo), Scott will get posted up a lot.

Killer nuts's picture

IU actually starts oladipo at the 3. They start yogi farrel (5' 9"?) and jordy hulls (6') in the back court so craft and Scott will be a great matchup against that line up

Rural Meyer's picture

Me and you are on the same page my friend

DMcDougal24's picture

I have no stats to support my argument, but just based on observing games I think a case can also be made that the team goes as Lenzelle Smith Jr. goes. It seems that we really do well when he is clicking, especially on the boards. Good piece Alex, Shannon Scott is certainly one of (if not THE) x-factors on this team.

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

IMO the Buckeyes go as far as Lenzelle Smith develops. Scott is trying to grow this year the way Smith did last year. That makes him an important complementary player. Important? Yes. But hardly the guy who determines how far this team goes.

celtic020's picture

This is pretty scary.  Shannon Scott will get open looks all year but his stroke is so bad in the mid-range game and he is no threat to score from deep.  Both he and Craft will have to score coming off ball screens for OSU to score enough points to win conference games down the stretch.  It's gonna be a challenge. 

Oakland Buckeye's picture

Gotta agree with Redstorm on this... Scott IS a dreadful shooter, he seems like a great kid, but me thinks the Charlie Scott Celtic DNa has jr a bit overrated. Would have killed to have Sully's old teammate playing up north on this squad  - two ones playing together... Scott's the worst perimeter shooting guard I have seen on a DI roster in a while. I realise he is a great defender & Norman Dale Matta defense is the premium, he is a good passer & average (for point) ball handler...but as my pappy used to say, he has the touch of a blacksmith... Hoping the gym rat time will pay off. I dont like he & Craft together on the floor, because we then have to great defenders who shoot combined less than 40% from the floor.