Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Jet Has Landed At Niagara

A wise man once said 'recruiting is not an exact science."

It never has been. Conventional wisdom tells us, it never will be.

There have been failed experiments.

There have been broken promises.

There have been countless cases of severely overhyped mega-stars who never lived up to their billing, despite illustrious scholastic careers.

At the same rate, there are busloads of recruits who've emerged from obscurity to put little-known schools on a national stage.

During spirited March Madness surges, those who have survived and thrived without the buzz tend to come with an "under-recruited" storyline.

No matter how many overhyped or underrated or spot-on recruits come through the ranks, recruiting will never be a precise, exact science.

As easy as it seems to predict the upside of a lethal scorer who can shred up defenses at will and lean hard-to-guard jumper at the high school level, there are myriad immeasurable factors to weigh.

Each and every year like calendar work, there are handfuls who don't pan out. There are also handfuls who go underappreciated and unsung, only to elicit a world of regret from a horde of coaches. This theme continues year after year.

Few surefire stars are ever infallible. At the same token, not every recruit will meet the demand or style of play of programs. Some are tailor-cut; others get lost and left in the dust.

A Division-I talent, especially when swimming in shark-infested waters of traditional basketball breeding grounds, can easily fall through cracks. Chances are, he will still find a hardwood home and earn that sought after scholarship.

Throughout this season, Brooklyn Law & Tech's Matt Scott shouldered the scoring mantle for a young program striving for visibility in New York's hoops hotbed.

 What began with a wowing 32-point display during the summer culminated with a 22-point performance against perennially potent Lincoln. Another 32-spot during the Jets' game against Christ The King would follow.

Program after program expressed interest in Scott. Only one threw down an offer sheet.

 The general cause for concern was Scott's spindly frame and the Jets' relative obscurity. Questions about the competition surfaced, but Scott continued to churn out double-doubles, navigating intensified coverage and double-teams.

The belief was Scott would sign with the first Division-I program to offer, staying true to his desire to become Law and Tech's first Division-I player. Now, a long and arduous recruiting process has concluded.

Scott, a 6-foot-3 guard, who has played all five positions for Kenny Pretlow's Jets, committed to the Purple Eagles on Monday. A late class of 2014 commit, Scott averaged 28.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 6.2 assists in Brooklyn A East.

Scott had budding interest from Niagara mid-way through the season, developing a rapport with the coaching staff. Programs such as Quinnipiac, Canisius, Manhattan, LIU-Brooklyn and St. Francis (NY) were in pursuit, albeit they wanted to see more of Scott.

The frustration compounded as Scott had to prove himself each and every time he laced up the kicks. While few could argue Scott's spurt-ability--cemented by a 17-point fourth quarter performance against Bedford Academy--the company line was "we'd like to see him against better competition."

The final two games of Scott's three-year career showcased his true value. Scott registered his imprint against top-level competition, dropping 22 points during a 85-65 loss to Lincoln.

The Railsplitters, featuring McDonald's All-American Isaiah Whitehead and freakish athlete/dunker Desi Rodriguez (a tandem headed to Seton Hall) are arguably the toughest game in the city. Scott followed this up with a 32-point barrage against Christ The King.

 Now Scott will be shooting his way to Niagara, which will invest four years in the pull-up specialist.

Not bad for the humble kid from crime-infested Marcy, where the bullets are sprayed often and drug-addled residents pollute the youth.

As much as Scott's story has been about hard work and adapting to new challenges on the court, slaying adversity has been critical.

In 25 games this season, Scott has churned out four triple-doubles and 20 double-doubles, including a 43-point barrage during an 84-78 loss to Scanlan on Nov.30. Scott scored 34 points and tore down 13 rebounds during a 90-67 victory over Erasmus.

The Jets, 12-3 in Brooklyn A and a no.5 seed in the A divisional playoffs, have made strides to build up the school's basketball culture. Pretlow, who is an assistant under Dwayne "Tiny" Morton at Lincoln and Athletic Director/assistant coach Mike Levy stacked the non-conference schedule. They used scrimmages against Holy Cross, Jefferson, Wings, Eagle, and Thurgood Marshall to ready this year's team.

The issue Scott creates is you can never sag off his mid-range game. He can also make defenders pay for overplaying him, carving to the rim and permeating the driving lanes. The Jets are always looking to play anyone on any court, looking to reap the residual effects of one of the city's toughest non-conference schedules.

With the program's surprising ascent and Scott living up to his Division-I name tag, the seeds that were planted are beginning to take root.

With his status as a hard-to-gauge recruit in the rearview mirror, the high-scoring and playmaking Jet has landed in Niagara.