He’s embracing the grind.
Matt Scott grew up playing pick-up basketball on the playground in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and even as a junior at Niagara College, he hasn’t lost the grit he picked up there — the former Brooklyn Law & Tech standout prides himself on it.
It’s a trait he hopes will lead the Purple Eagles to victories in a jam-packed season that includes 20 league match-ups.
“It’s always fun to play as much as we do,” Scott said. “You play on Monday, then you’ve got another game on Thursday, and one on Saturday. I really like that a lot.”
Scott — the first-ever Division I player out of Law & Tech — came into his own last season. He started 30 games, averaging 15.4 points per game and a team-leading 7.1 rebounds. Still, he knew there was more work to be done.
So Scott came home, spent the summer in Brooklyn, and made return appearances to those playgrounds that had been a staple of his childhood.
“That’s where I really improved my game,” Scott said. “I’d work out by myself, and I’d play pick-up with whoever was around. That’s where I got the ability to do different things. It just made me tougher playing out there.”
Scott’s off-season practice regimen helped make him the most potent scoring threat on the Purple Eagles roster this season.
The 6-foot-4 guard averaged a team-best 17 points and 6.9 rebounds in Niagara’s first 12 games. He turned the ball over just 24 times.
“It’s a mindset of not turning the ball over,” Scott said. “If it’s not there, I’m not going to make the pass. I’m going to keep my dribble.”
Scott has always had a very specific type of determination on the court, certain that basketball is a way to improve his entire life. He grew up in Marcy Houses and seized the opportunity to compete at the Division I level as soon as Niagara showed interest.
He doesn’t feel much pressure as Law & Tech’s first Division I alum, but he’s also keenly aware of what people expect from him. Scott had more than a dozen friends and family members in the stands when the Purple Eagles took on Long Island University at Barclays Center on Dec. 21.
“I just go out there and play, because I know my school and the people that support me are happy where I am,” he said. “I just want to win. I want to play good, and I want to win.”
Scott knows there will be plenty of challenges ahead of him this season. Niagara opened up the year 3–9, and a run at a league championship won’t be easy.
If there’s one thing he’s learned, it’s that he relishes in overcoming challenges — and putting in the required to do so.
“I know a lot of teams are starting to key in on me, and I have to learn how to get to the line more, get some easy baskets,” Scott said. “That’s one thing I’m really trying to work on. But it’s always about winning.”