Scott, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Tell us what you’ve been up to.
I’m currently a high school principal in Northern Kentucky and I’ve been doing this for almost five years now. I was coaching but I’m no longer coaching now. I’ve got three kids and I coach every single one of their teams. So as you can imagine it’s been a busy winter.
Who or what inspired you to get into teaching?
When I first got out of school I was a consultant for a mangement group for a couple of years. I spent six weeks in Little Rock Arkansas going up against the Teamsters in a union dispute. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I couldn’t vision doing that for the next forty years. So I started thinking about what really made me happy and what it is that I really wanted to do and that’s when I went and pursued a career in education. I taught high school English for eight years. My dad was in education, in fact he was a former school superintendent. And currently he is actually the commissioner of education in the state of Kentucky. He was just appointed to that position in the last few months. It just gave me an opportunity to be around kids, to be around basketball and to have a different kind of career. It’s certainly one that I’m glad I pursued. I love my job and I love what I do. It’s a lot of fun.
So is your father your boss?
Technically he is now (laughs). The fact that he’s the commissioner of education, he holds the top position throughout the state of Kentucky so it is coincidental. In fact when he first got the job he started sending out emails from Frankfurt, where the Education department is. I actually emailed him back one day and said “I never really thought of it but my Dad is my boss.”
You were a highly recruited High School Senior. You led the state of Kentucky in scoring your junior and senior years. Who were some of the other schools that recruited you and why did you ultimately choose Vanderbilt?
Had Joe B. Hall stayed one more year at Kentucky, in all likely hood I would’ve gone to Kentucky. When he was there he was recruiting me and wanted me to sign early. When he left Eddie Sutton came in and recruited two guards, Rex Chapman and his son Sean. Once Eddie came in that’s when I started looking elsewhere and C.M. Newton entered the picture. Other than Vanderbilt I looked closely at Georgia. I also looked at two schools closer to home one more of an academic school, Miami of Ohio and Dayton. It really came down to once Kentucky was out of the picture, Vandy and Georgia. I knew at that stage after Kentucky was gone that I still wanted to play in the SEC. It really was an easy decision for me at that stage playing at a school in the SEC and a academic school that was really strong. Looking back it was the wise thing to do. In fact I signed early not wanting to wait around for Kentucky through the following year or for anyone else for that matter. I realized that was the school for me. It turned out to be a great move from many different stand points.
What are you most proud of from your time at Vanderbilt?
I’m most proud of the fact that we won and some very good teams. We made it to a post season tournament every year I was there. And I was there for five years with one redshirt year. I played two years, redshirted one, then played two more. We made it to the NCAA tournament or NIT every year. We made it to the Sweet Sixteen in 1988 and went back to the NCAA tournament my senior year in 1991. 1990 we went to the NIT and actually won the NIT championship. In 1989 we were in the NCAA tournament then my freshman year we were in the NIT. Every year we had good teams and that’s what it’s all about. I know there have been more guys that came through there scored more points but there haven’t been many other teams through a four or five year period have won more games or went to more tournaments. That’s says alot about the guys who played. Barry Goheen was a great player. Will Perdue, Frank Kornet, Derick Willcox were great ballplayers. We were able to puch aside individual accomplishments to have success from a team standpoint.
You played two years, redshirted one, then played two more. Why did you decide to redshirt in the middle?
I was the third guard behind Barry Booker and Barry Goheen. In fact it was a very difficult decision. But I knew my role was going to be the same and CM was thinking along those lines as well. In fact I had my best preseason since I had been there prior to my redshirt year. We had four scrimmages and I had four 20 point games and led us in scoring. I ended up getting the notion to go ahead and redshirt to seperate myself from the two Barrys for two years. So that way I would get to start for two years, my junior and senior year and not just one which how it would’ve been. So that’s why I decided to do that. It turned out being good for me on a personal level and also good for the team from a winning standpoint. But it was a hard year after you’ve already played two years. When I came in I had a good freshman year and was one of the five guys chosen for the All-SEC freshman team. I had a couple of twenty points game as a freshman and had some good games as a sophmore. It was tough to do but I knew it was going to be in my best interests. Plus I was having so much fun in college. I graduated in four years and my fifth year I was actually in grad school so I wanted to pursue my Masters while I was at it. We could’ve used you in that Notre Dame game on St. Patricks Day. Yeah, I remember that and that was my redshirt year. It’s just one of those things.
Will Perdue called you the best shooter he ever played with. Isn’t it true that you hadn’t played with the three point line until your freshman year at Vandy?
That’s right. My Senior year in high school was in 1986. The three point shot came in 1987 for college. It entered the high school ranks until 1988. So yes I had not played yet with the three point shot. Back then if you remember, coaches were very reluctant to shoot it. Some coaches didn’t embrace it all. I remember Denny Crum at Louisville thought it was a bad shot and wasn’t going to take it. That’s when there was a 45 second shot clock. In fact CM Newton at the time would only allow us to take the shot after it touched Will’s hands. It had to go from inside out. We had to feed the post to Will or to Frank Kornet but we weren’t really allowed to shoot it out of the offense unless it touched a guys hands inside first. As you know now it’s the really just the opposite of that. They are shooting it a lot more frequently on the break and out of normal offenses. It’s really evolved into a lot more easily accessible shot. It has changed alot and I didn’t have it at high school at all. It was kind of unusual getting used to it because no one had ever shot it before.
Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?
I do, in fact just recently when they had the last reunion game we went out and had dinner with CM Newton, Barry Booker, and Barry Goheen. We occasionally keep up through emails. I’m good friends with Steve Grant, a guy I played a lot of basketball with. I’m very good friends with a former Vanderbilt football player, Scott Ward. In fact to this day he’s probably my best friend. I keep in touch with the guys and every few seasons if we don’t have a reunion game we try to get together to catch up.
Who was the best player you played against at Vanderbilt?
That’s a really difficult question. Because just about everybody we played against had someone play in the NBA. At the time UT had Allan Houston, Kentucky had Jamal Mashburn and Chapman. Alabama had a lot of great players, Latrell Sprewell, Rober Horry, and one after the other. But longterm it would’ve had to be Shaquille O’Neal out of LSU. He became a dominant factor. From a guard standpoint in league play Chris Jackson out of LSU really stuck out to me as being impossible to stop. He was quick with the ball. He had a few years where he almost averaged 30 points in college which in the SEC is out of this world.
He was a really good free throw shooter.
Yeah, he was tremendous. That’s back when Dale Brown had it really going. Even back then as good as LSU was Alabama was winning the conference. There was a lot of talent in the league back in those days.
Your sophomore year you beat the #1 team in the country, North Carolina. What do you remember about that game?
I can remember how excited the fans where and how excited we were just to beat a #1 team. Indiana also rolled in 1987 my freshman year when they were #1 and we defeated them. We defeated North Carolina and Indiana both when they were #1. One of the things I remember most about playing at Vandy is that we beat Kentucky five times and fortunately I had some of my better games the times we played them. Being from Kentucky beating them was an accomplishment. But to beat them as many times as we did. It just wasn’t once or twice. It was five times. It was a lot of satisfaction because of Kentucky’s dominance in the conference.
Also in your freshman year you scored 22 points to beat Kentucky. That ended a drought of seven years without a win over the Wildcats. What did that game meant to you as a Kentucky native?
It sure means a lot. That’s one of those games where when you go back home your all of friends are mad at you. It didn’t take me long to become a Vanderbilt fan and break any ties I had with Kentucky. That really was a big game because it did break a seven year drought and I think a 13 game losing streak to them. That’s when they were really tough with Bowie, Terrapin and so on and so forth. But the night we beat them they had Rex Chapman and Winston Bennett and those guys. It was a great win for us. I remember coming off the bench and having my first couple of shots and went on to hitting six threes and a couple of buckets here and there. It was a great night. There was a really good crowd like they usually are in Nashville. I also remember coincidentally, my senior year in 1991 I had 18 points. I didn’t lead us in scoring but I did lead us in rebounding. It was the first and only game I ever led us in rebounding.
The Pittsburgh game in the 1988 NCAA tournament is now legendary in Nashville. What do you remember about being down and forcing overtime with Goheen’s buzzer beater then coming back to win that game in overtime?
He actually hit two 3’s. The first one was with 15 seconds left. I had the ball and I drove the length of the court and his defender came out. I passed him the ball and he hit an open three to get it within three points. Then we fouled and they missed the free throw. That’s when he came down and hit the shot all by himself. The guy came out on him and he threw up a Hail Mary. He did that all by himself. I remember the excitement once we got back after the game realizing we had made it to the final 16. Barry Booker had a great line he said “If we would have known that going to the Sweet Sixteen would’ve this much fun and generated this much excitement we would’ve done this years ago.”
Another big time buzzer beater game was when Top 5 Louisville led by Pervis Ellison came into Memorial Gym your sophomore year. What sticks out to you about that game?
That was one of those games there were two last second shots. The first one, Barry Goheen hit a 3 pointer going into the half. Then he hit one from half court to actually win the game. That was very unusual but it was a great game. That’s back when Louisville really had it going. They were a top 5 program year in and year out and in many respects even better than Kentucky. CM Newton made sure our nonconference games were really strong because we needed it for our strength of schedule. We played North Carolina back in those days. We beat Indiana the year they won it in 1987. They went 28-3 and one of their losses was to us in Nashville. We played Indiana, Notre Dame and Louisville. We went out and played a lot of good competition.
Did you play in the “Tennis Ball” game?
No, that was in my redshirt year. I remember it very, very well. That’s one of those traumatic experiences in terms of losing the conference championship on some bonehead play.
Your Junior year you were named the MVP of the NIT what did that mean to you?
Winning the NIT that year was a really great accomplishment for that team. I’ve thought about this many times over the years. In many respects you’re better off winning the NIT than going to the NCAA tournament and losing in the first round. It was very rewarding it was great to end the season on a winning note. It was a lot of fun to win the NIT championship and the fact that I as able to be MVP of the tournament was also a special award. I did have alot of good games leading up to that and I had a really good semifinal game. To actually win a championship even though it’s not the NCAA was an honor. To win it was a thrill for a bunch of kids.
You were also a third team All-American that year too.
I was first team for our conference as a Senior. That’s something that meant a lot to me simply because the SEC is so good. There are so many good player and to be first team All-SEC was really an accomplishment.
Your senior year you made it back to the NCAA tournament and played a team led by future NBA stars Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. Georgetown got out to bag lead but you fought back and took the lead in the 2nd half before coming up a little short. I know you had to be disappointed but weren’t you proud that you made it to the NCAA’s We went undefeated at home that year in conference play.
We went 9-0 at home. Then we won two on the road. We had eleven conference wins and that as back when it was an 18 game conference schedule. It wasn’t like it is now where it’s 16 games. It was a true home and away conference schedule. We got into the NCAA tournament. We were a bubble team for sure so to get in was important to us because we didn’t want to go back to the NIT. That would’ve been somewhat of a let down. It was a good accomplishment getting to the NCAA tournament that year. I do remember that game very well. They did have a bunch of NBA type players. We zoned in that game. It was also the only game that year they shot over 50% from the field. They had a guard who hadn’t done much but got hot and hit a bunch of threes and open shots. But we did play them close. We were in it. I do remember I got the Chevrolet player of the game. I had a pretty good game overall but we came up a little short. Nonetheless, It was a good way to end my career playing in the NCAA tournament.
Do you think the team this year has a good shot at making a run in the NCAA tournament?
Absolutely, hopefully we aren’t going to be an 8 or 9 seed where you have a dogfight the first round then play a #1. Hopefully the seeding will be better than that and we’ll get a better draw. This team is definitely an NCAA tournament team.
I hope so we don’t get a lot of respect from the mainstream media.
I don’t understand it. We’ve been in the Top 25 all year. They can’t leave us out. Hopefully the seed will be better than an 8 or 9.
Thanks again Scott for taking the time to do this is there anything else you’d like to say to all you Vanderbilt friends and fans out there?
I tell you what, with every passing year I enjoy my experience at Vanderbilt more and more. It’s a great school. You get to play great competition and they do it right. I appreciate the fact that the students show up and graduate. The guys who are playing belong in school. They don’t recruit anyone who can’t do the work. I think it’s a credit to the school that they are able to have the success they’ve had. I know in the last couple of years Vanderbilt University has had some of the most success in school’s history in terms of athletic accomplishment within playing by the rules academically. It’s a great school. It’s a great fan base.I’m really proud to say that I went there.