Southern's Scott in demand

Maryland and Duke among those impressed with Bulldogs guard

January 14, 2000|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

The past few days have been full of bright lights, cameras and activity for junior point guard Melvin Scott of Southern-Baltimore. But that's swiftly becoming the norm for this major Division I basketball prospect.

At last week's Mayor's Basketball Academy Tournament at Coppin State, the 6-foot-2, 165-pound All-Metro pick impressed recruiters from Duke and Maryland, along with tournament officials, who named him the event's Most Valuable Player.

On Sunday, Scott, 17, was at Maryland's Cole Field House watching the Terrapins' loss to Duke. Through Southern coach Meredith Smith, Maryland assistant Billy Hahn had requested Scott's presence at the game and, afterward, in the locker room.

Scott was interviewed by a local television station and met the Terps' Juan Dixon, formerly of Calvert Hall, and Terence Morris, formerly of Frederick's Thomas Johnson. The three discussed the loss, among other things.

"Terence explained to me why he thought they lost, that they weren't sinking their shots. I kind of just shook my head," Scott said. "Juan's a great three-point shooter, as you know, but he said his shot wasn't falling."

Then, said Scott, "They asked me if I could hit the `J,' and I just kind of smiled. I said, `Oh yeah.' And they said, `Man, we could have used you out there.' "

They also wanted to know which Division I program would be the beneficiary of Scott's prowess in 2002.

His skills and solid academic status are two reasons he's getting serious looks from schools such as Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, Florida State, Seton Hall, Villanova, Miami and Connecticut.

"We have him rated as one of the top 25 Division I college prospects in the country for players in the class of 2001," said North Carolina-based recruiting analyst Bob Gibbons.

"Melvin Scott, given another year, will be a major, major college player," Gibbons said. "The Terps like him as a complement to Steve Blake, only he [Scott] is a lot more explosive."

Scott is averaging 28 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals.

He also is poised at the free-throw line, where he's shooting over 90 percent, according to Southern's Smith, whose fifth-ranked Bulldogs (8-3) have won three straight games.

Scott already is nearing the qualifying status required for freshman eligibility under the NCAA's guidelines. He carries a 3.0 grade-point average in his core courses and a 3.2 average overall. He has taken the SAT once and is nearing the corresponding score necessary to be a full qualifier.

Although the recruiting push is on, Scott is handling things much the way he would in hitting a couple of clutch free throws in a noisy gym: calmly.

"I'm going to really think it out, what I'm going to do," said Scott, who did not rule out committing to a program during his junior season, as Morris did to Maryland.

"It helped to go up there to Maryland. I got a pretty good understanding of their program, but I'm still not sure," Scott said. "I have a good idea about it, but I'm going to wait, discuss it with my coach and my parents."

Scott considers himself "very athletic," adding that he can dunk over larger opponents with either or both hands.

Several tout sheets agree, having ranked him among the nation's top junior point guards and among the state's best overall players.

"Some games, he's been 100 percent at the line, and he plays great defensively. I mean, Melvin is just a versatile player who can do it all," Smith said. "He's extremely mature and with a lot of savvy -- much more than what you normally see in the game of a player at this stage of his career."

Hahn and Steve Wojciechowski, an assistant coach at Duke, were on hand last week to witness Scott's MVP efforts at the Mayor's Basketball Academy tournament.

"I talked to Billy Hahn, and he indicated that they most definitely wanted Scott," said Smith, indicating Maryland might be leaning toward offering a full scholarship. "In fact, when we went to their game against Duke, he [Hahn] said they definitely could have used Smith that day."

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