By Kevin Trala
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y – Basketball season snuck up rather quickly for some and others it felt as if it has been way too long, but for 6-foot-4-inch southpaw Matt Scott and the Purple Eagles, hooping never stops.
Hailing from Brooklyn, where the blood of basketball runs deep, and is the place where it all began for Scott.
“I started playing real young with guys from my neighborhood who were good and mostly all of them were older than me,” said Scott. “It was never easy but it made me tough.”
According to Scott, he never played AAU or in travel leagues, but dominated in high school, averaging 28.4 points per game, 11.8 rebounds per game and 6.2 assists per game, against elite competition, according to purpleeagles.com.
“In high school I was the guy. I went to a school that was class A, but we would play against AA schools who had division I prospects and we would beat them. This is where I got noticed.”
Scott worked his way up and out of the city he calls home, letting his talent on the court take him to greater opportunities. In his freshman year at Niagara, Scott tallied an exceptional 150 points, 23 assists and 81 rebounds, all in 510 minutes. It was a completely different team at the time. In fact, Scott is the only one remaining from the 2014-15 Purple Eagles team.
“The game was tough to adjust to at first, it was fast and guys were stronger than me. I feel as if I would have had the confidence I had in my sophomore and junior year, I would have been just as good.”
Scott did take off his sophomore year, playing a much larger role as a starting guard and spent a total of 992 minutes on the court.
“After my first season, Coach Casey encouraged me to be more of myself on the court and that he brought me here for a reason,” said Scott. “That off season was much better for me because I was able to put in a lot of work on the court and in the weight room.”
It was in his second season where he amassed his numbers, putting up 461 points. Scott’s sophomore season proved him to be an all-around player even at the Division I level, leading the team in rebounds, assists and steals with 213, 76 and 39, respectively. Scott was also named to the all-MAAC third team that season.
“My confidence was at a level it was at in high school and with the work I put in it showed that season,” said Scott. “That’s every season now. I continue to work, learn from experience, be coachable and get better every year.”
Scott was named captain in his junior year. His on-court production was nothing short than expected, but even more so as he ended the season leading the team in scoring, rebounds and steals. More notably, Scott was fifth in the entire MAAC for averaged points per game with 17.0, sixth in rebounds per game with 7.0, and seventh in steals per game with 1.3, according to purpleeagles.com.
“After my sophomore year I knew it was time for me to take over. I was a lot more comfortable offensively and got way better at making the right choices, whether that be knowing when I had to score, getting the team involved and not turning the ball over.”
This season is Scott’s final year as a Purple Eagle and he has nothing but the highest expectations of not only himself, but his team success.
“We want to get to the MAAC tournament but more importantly win the championship,” declared Scott. “We know we have the pieces to get there but we have to take it day by day.”
With supporting yet vital roles from guard Kahlil Dukes, forward Marvin Prochet and the depth of offensive threats, the Purple Eagles have noticeably improved over the past few seasons, catching the attention of the entire Niagara fan base.
“This years team is the best team I’ve played on in my four years here,” claimed Scott. “We have the experience, guys that can score and the chemistry is better than it has ever been.”
The Purps are already making statements, most notably with the big season-opening win against a proven Saint Bonaventure team, giving Niagara momentum heading into the rest of the season. Scott and the Purple Eagles are just getting started as they continue on the long journey to the MAAC tournament in March. Scott himself is already on a mission, averaging a huge 25.2 ppg and 6.8 rpg (as of Nov 25).
“The individual goals mean a lot to me but more importantly we have to win before any of that can matter.”