Spreading his wings

Sean Joseph

Sophomore forward becomes a leader and backbone of Flashes’ defense

With an arm span of almost 7 feet, sophomore forward Mike Scott has used this physical attribute, as well as mental focus, to block shots and to rebound, making him one of the best defensive players for the Flashes. Kent State and Scott have two home game

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

At first glance, the only interesting thing people might notice about sophomore Mike Scott is he stands about a head taller than most people.

But another look reveals an arm span, from middle finger to middle finger, of almost 7 feet, which allows this 6-foot-6 sophomore to be the driving force behind the Kent State men’s basketball team’s defense.

Scott recorded a double-double Saturday afternoon in the Flashes’ ESPN BracketBuster game against Butler with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

Offensive numbers have been a recent addition to Scott’s game. He has scored more than 10 points in the last three games while his average is only 6.7 points per game.

Scott said his role is to be the backbone of the defense. Rebounding and guarding come first, but playing with a defensive mentality also lets him play more minutes and hit more shots.

“I’m supposed to help the team do the little things,” Scott said. “I’m not in there to score 20 points like other guys are.”

Kent State coach Jim Christian said Scott was the only player who could successfully guard Butler’s Brandon Polk, who scored 21 points against Kent State.

“Last year, Mike didn’t play more than three or four minutes at a time without coming out just completely exhausted,” Christian said after Scott played 43 minutes Saturday. “It’s a tremendous improvement.”

Scott said over the summer he lifted four times a week and played basketball every day against his friends at a park in his hometown of Indianapolis. His competition often consisted of three other Division I basketball players who he went to high school with, including Wesley Clemmons from Southern Illinois, Courtney Lee from Western Kentucky and George Hill from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He said he would focus on a different aspect of his game every day and owes his improvement this season to his dedication over the summer.

Despite his basketball skills, Scott is also a regular student who lives in Leebrick Hall, takes a normal class load and can be seen enjoying a nice day on a bench in Centennial Court. He is a 19-year-old aeronautical systems engineer major interested in working with aircraft after college and taking basic LER courses, such as world geography.

But 20 hours of practice a week, more lifting, shooting, games and the pressure of winning a Mid-American Conference Championship makes his priorities somewhat different.

“I try to stay focused on my classes, or practice, or whatever I’m doing,” Scott said. “I don’t let outside things distract me. I know what I want and know I can accomplish my goals.”

Scott said his greatest basketball accomplishment was getting a scholarship to play at a D-I school. He was offered scholarships by five or six D-I schools he said had good programs.

“Winning was the first reason (why) I chose Kent,” Scott said. “I was used to winning and wanted to keep it a part of my life.”

Scott led Northwest High School to an Indianapolis city championship as the team went 23-5 his senior year.

Scott said his mentality, not his arm span, is what makes him a special player.

“It’s an asset, but you also have to have the hunger to compete,” Scott said. “There are a lot of guys built like me, but my mentality sets me apart.”

Scott said he exceeded his expectations for this season but still needs to improve in every aspect of the game. With four seniors graduating after this season, Scott will also have a chance to be the next team leader.

For now, the Flashes and Scott are focused on the final three games of the season and preparing for the MAC Tournament, which begins March 6.

Contact men’s basketball reporter Sean Joseph at [email protected].