While Miami Hurricanes football can take a huge step forward in their recent resurgence by beating #2 Ohio State this weekend, basketball at “The U” is still looking to break through. Last season Miami finished last place in the ACC with a 4-12 conference record, despite posting a 20-13 mark overall. With PF Dwayne Collins gone to the pros, it’ll be up to rising sophomore PG Durand Scott (10.3 ppg, 3.4 apg) to lead the Hurricanes in climbing out of the basement. In Dime #58, we profiled Scott in a “What’s My Name?” piece.
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Please forgive Durand Scott if he cares more about winning than personal statistics. As a graduate of a Harlem basketball powerhouse, Scott and his high school teammates were expected to contend for a championship each and every year in the ultra-competitive NYC hoops scene. Coming from Rice H.S., winning is all he’s ever focused on.
“I’ll never forget it,” says Scott about his time at Rice. “I never wanted to let my teammates or my coach down. They’re like my family.”
On his way to winning a state championship and tournament MVP honors his senior year, Scott was recruited by some of the most prestigious collegiate programs across the nation — UConn, Pittsburgh and UCLA among them. But no ankle-breaking crossover or step-back three-pointer, of which he had many during his years at Rice, was more revealing of Durand Scott than his decision to attend the University of Miami (Fla.).
“It wasn’t just about basketball,” says the 6-3 point guard. “I knew I wasn’t going to play for the rest of my life, so I wanted to go somewhere where I could start a lifestyle and enjoy my life outside of basketball.”
As a kid growing up in the Bronx, Scott spent a lot of time on and off the court with a self-titled clique named F4L (Family 4 Life). College ballers like Darryl “Truck” Bryant (West Virginia), Kemba Walker (UConn) and Chris Fouch (Drexel) include themselves in that group. Transitioning from the familiarity of home to the unknown of Coral Gables might seem like an impossible task, but for Scott, life has come easy in the Sunshine State.
“It wasn’t really hard,” says Scott. “I’m a friendly guy, I like to get to know people, so it was pretty easy for me to make friends, mingle with people and enjoy myself.”
On the court, Scott was quick to recognize his place as an incoming freshman. Cognizant of his own experiences while leading Rice to a championship the year before, Scott left the vocal leadership roles to the Miami seniors while he set an example on game days.
“Coming in as a freshman, I let them lead the team,” says Scott. “I got more comfortable at Miami within the year, and realized my team needed me more than I knew.
As a Big East fan growing up in New York, Scott didn’t ever pay too much attention to the ACC. In fact, Scott admits he didn’t really know anything about the conference in which he now shines. But the opportunity to face arguably the two most historic programs in college basketball — North Carolina and Duke — had him excited.
“I looked up to those teams and always wanted to play against them, wanted to do well against them,” says the 20-year-old. “When it was time to play them, I was ready to shine, and I think I did pretty well.”
“Pretty well” might be the understatement of the year, coming from perhaps the ACC’s most impressive young star. In the Hurricanes’ two games against the eventual national champion Blue Devils, Scott averaged 24.0 points, including a breathtaking performance in a three-point loss at Cameron Indoor. In the team’s sole matchup at North Carolina, Scott went off for 29 points, keeping his team in it until the very end.
Scott, who slashed defenses all season en route to a spot on the All-ACC Rookie Team, has a style that oozes his NYC roots. On a team full of spot-up shooters and run-of-the-mill big men, Scott’s slashing abilities made the difference for a young Hurricanes team.
“Growing up in New York, most of the game was trying to get it to the basket,” says Scott. “You hardly see someone shoot the ball. I inherit that style from New York, but I don’t try and make that the only part of my game. I just go out there and try and play hard, and whatever the defense gives me, that’s exactly what I’m going to take.”
Teaming up with sophomore guard and Brooklyn native Malcolm Grant, Scott had the Hurricanes playing a fast-paced style of ball that had fans in Coral Gables excited about the program’s future by season’s end. Scott promised himself to be in the gym every day of the offseason, and his June appearance at Chris Paul’s Elite Guard camp shows that everyone should be taking notice of the Hurricanes’ rising star.
“Everyday I hear little things, ‘He can’t do this, he can’t do that.’ I’m at the point right now where I’m working on every part of my game,” says Scott. “Basically, I want to prove people wrong, go out there and play my game, have fun, and hope everything works out for me as well as my team.”