Shannon Scott: the Overlooked Man

By Nicholas Jervey on December 22, 2013 at 6:00a
Scott had a game to not quite remember.

Yesterday was Shannon Scott’s 21st birthday.

His present was a heart-stopping comeback to beat Notre Dame in Madison Square Garden.

Lenzelle Smith Jr. has received a lion's share of the praise for the win after scoring nine points in the final minute. However, he wouldn't have been able to close the deficit without an assist from Scott.

Shannon Scott was instrumental to Ohio State’s comeback. Without him, Ohio State loses to Notre Dame. And yet, Scott is constantly overlooked.

Last night, Scott showed glimpses of how good he could be. He drained back-to-back three-pointers early, more than the rest of the team combined across the entire game. He led the team with seven assists against only one turnover, the only efficient player in a game where everyone else struggled with Notre Dame's zone defense.

When Ohio State was down eight with less than a minute to go, Scott facilitated a LaQuinton Ross layup to cut the lead to six. He stole the ball, and fed Smith for a layup; he stole the ball again, drew a foul and sank two pressure free throws to bring the Buckeyes within two. With some luck, good pressure from Scott, and a hot streak from Smith, Ohio State turned a near-certain defeat into victory.

Shannon Scott has not always been held in such high regard. For the last two seasons, fans pined for Trey Burke and resented that Scott’s scholarship sent Burke to Michigan.

Shannon Scott was Mr. Georgia Basketball coming out of Milton High School, the #12 point guard in the country, 53rd overall. Trey Burke was the Ohio Mr. Basketball coming out of Northland, the #26 point guard, 142nd overall. Going into their freshman year, Scott looked like the better prospect.

That changed with Scott's miserable freshman season. Scott shot 28% from the field, 22% from the free throw line, 5% from three point range. Meanwhile, Trey Burke tore it up at Michigan, becoming the Big Ten Freshman Player of the Year and showed an explosiveness everyone had missed.

Things turned around in Scott’s sophomore year, when he became passable on offense. He shot 41% from the field and 33% from three, while improving his free throw percentage to 62%. His minutes more than doubled, and he played in every game. His hallmark was his defense; he excelled at steals, and together with Aaron Craft the two were terrors on the perimeter.

His growth was measurable, but some in Columbus still had a wandering eye for Trey Burke. Burke improved even more than Scott did, adding some hesitation moves to make his offense unstoppable. He became an ballhawk on defense. He was the National Player of the Year and led Michigan to the NCAA finals, all while Scott had to look on after an embarrassing Elite 8 loss to Wichita State. Burke is in the NBA now, killing it for the Utah Jazz.

Can Shannon Scott be forgiven for not being Trey Burke? Last year, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Bill Livingston drew a comparison asked before. Livingston put it well: “Scott has been blighted by comparisons he cannot win, and he has been discounted in games he clearly can help win.”

Rather than fighting the ghost of a pro player, Scott has been fighting for recognition on the team this season. At any given time, he is no better than the fourth option on offense. And yet, he scored in double figures against Notre Dame even when everyone else was stymied.

On defense, Craft has always been seen as the better player – never mind that according to Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn, Scott forces turnovers on 7.91% of opponents' possessions while Craft only does it 6.26% of the time. Craft overshadows Scott off the court, as he does with Rubik's cubes, his roomies, even in the locker room celebration:



Basketball has a unique chemistry. Even teams with superstars need glue guys to facilitate and hold defensive rotations together. Aaron Craft has long been seen as Ohio State's glue guy; Shannon Scott might be even more so than Craft. 

In his junior year, Scott has improved again. His shooting average up to 45%. He’s a better rebounder, better at stealing the ball, better at scoring. His assists to turnovers ratio is down from 3:1 last year to 2:1 this year, understandable with no surefire scorer like Deshaun Thomas to pass to.

Scott is the team's distributor, and his play affects the rest of the offense. Amir Williams is a much better scorer this year, and a large part of that is Scott being able to feed him in the post consistently. Lenzelle Smith is open more often when Scott is a threat on offense, as is Amedeo Della Valle. Sam Thompson needs a passer for his highlight dunks. About the only person who doesn't need Scott to create offense is LaQuinton Ross, and when he struggles, almost all offense runs through Scott or Craft.

At this rate, Scott will have another solid season, return for his senior year, and leave a legacy as a fine player.

He won't be remembered like Craft will. Odds are, he’ll become the new Tony Stockman, another good Ohio State player who left few indelible memories.

But enough of the comparisons to other players. Shannon Scott is a 21-year-old man, and he gets to play on his own terms. His performance against Notre Dame last night shows how good he can be, whether or not people recognize it.


Comments Show All Comments

Jonnferrell's picture

We have the best defensive backcourt in the nation.  But it's more than that.  They know that this is a year for the taking.  Shannon Scott emerges this year, not as a Tony Stockman, but as the best all around player on the Buckeye roster.  It is written. 

"I miss Brady Hoke."

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

If he can consistently shoot 45-50% from the field and increase his free throw percentage, then I agree with you that he can be the best all-around player on our team.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

jestertcf's picture

It's like watching the anti cleveland browns, who snatch defeat from certain victory.

~Because we couldn't go for three~

TMac's picture

Scott is learning from a master defender, they go about it slightly differently, but we have a tremendous backcourt!

ONE Not Done!

Liening's picture

Love the celebration video -- Aaron Craft, a leader on the court, and for celebrations!  What a fun guy to watch play ball.


Seattle Linga's picture

Agreed LIENING and you notice that they really didn't celebrate until AC hit the room. 
JEFF B - thanks for posting

Lincoln's picture

Man, it would suck to be in NYC after a win like that on your 21st bday. 

sb97's picture

Seriously?  No upvotes for this?  Allow me to rectify!

DenBuck's picture

The video is GREAT...the announcers said during the broadcast how Thad said he LOVED this squad, how great their chemistry is and how close they are. The video says it all. GREAT WIN. Thad and the staff are just terrific....

Buckeye For Life

sb97's picture

Give Scott a reliable runner and mid range jumper and he is one heck of a NBA prospect.

ibuck's picture

Good mid range J's are too rare these days, but I'd love to see it from any Buckeye.
Burke is no longer at TTUN, but Scott's assists and glue are still here for OSU.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

At the risk of sounding corny, sometimes things happen for a reason, and adversity can make you stronger.  Shannon Scott is a class act, he's a true team player, unselfish and a heck of a point guard.  Hope he continues to progress, comes back his senior season and proves to be the best point guard in the B1G and one of the tops in the nation, and get to realize his dream and play at the next level. 

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

thatlillefty's picture

Shannon Scott is the man. Love his intensity on defense. Between him, Craft, Zelle on the perimeter, we just need Amir to guard the bucket and Q to play decent. This can definitely be the best defense in the country.

yrro's picture

I'm incredibly happy how Scott has progressed for this team. He's taking Craft's tenacity on defense and applying it with a much higher degree of athleticism. He's a force this year, and he'll be a star next year.

Whosisbrew's picture

Shannon Scott is "The Ghost."