Before Evan Turner, Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. were Buckeyes, Scoonie Penn was the big man on campus at Ohio State (’98-00). Standing an inch or two short of six-feet, the stocky point guard was like Chauncey Billups the way he could pick apart defenders with his strength and speed. And just like Mr. Big Shot, Penn was cool under pressure and could close out games.
After spending his first two collegiate seasons at Boston College, Scoonie transferred to Ohio State, where he and future NBA All-Star Michael Redd teamed up to form arguably the best backcourt in college basketball at the time. In his two years in Columbus, Penn was a two-time All Big 10 selection and was a third team All-American as a senior. The highlight of his college career was when he helped lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four his junior year in 1999.
Even with Redd on the roster, it was Scoonie that electrified crowds. Always poised, Penn could kill you in every way. Get too close, he’d use that speed to go right around you. Give him an inch and he’d make you pay with his jumper every time. He left OSU as the all-time leader in three-pointers made. The Salem, MA native would also lock down any guard in the country. Who could forget the time in the 1999 Elite Eight game against St. John’s where used his 40-inch vertical to pin Erick Barkley’s layup against the backboard (see video above).
Despite all his accomplishments at OSU, Penn was penalized for his size when it came down to the NBA. Picked late in the second round of the 2000 Draft (57th overall) by the Hawks, Penn never made the team and never played in the NBA. After being released by Atlanta, Scoonie immediately took his game to Italy. Aside from the half-season in 2002 he spent in the D-League with the now-defunct Asheville Altitude, Penn has spent his post college career overseas. He has played in Italy, Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Ukraine.
Penn has stated he’d like to play in the NBA, but is comfortable and happy in Europe. He also said he’s not interested in playing in the D-League again. Asked by Hoopshype.com in 2003 if he’s mad that he’s not an NBA player, Penn replied:
“No, I won’t feel bitter about that. I’m well contend with my life, with who I am and what I do. Even though not in the NBA, I’m doing what I love to do. Besides, I have a life outside basketball. I love basketball, but it is not the only thing in my life. I’m a well-educated person and I know I can do other things in my life when basketball is not there.”
Now 32 years old, Penn is back playing in Italy for La Fortezza Bologna of the SerieA League. In eight games this season, he is averaging 6.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Some other notable names in Italy are: DeMarcus Nelson, Dee Brown, Fred Jones, Hollis Price, Bobby Jones, Drake Diener, Harold Jamison, Luke Jackson, Randolph Childress, Andre Hutson, Romain Sato, Damon Jones, Robert “Tractor” Traylor, Travis Best, Jumaine Jones, Robert Hite, Troy Bell.
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