Dec. 20, 2003
By Allen Thigpen
In a season where nearly everything seems new, Ole Miss is looking to a supporting cast of unfamiliar, yet talented faces to help return the team to the SEC's elite. Among these new faces is freshman forward Jarvelle Scott. The New Orleans native is one of eight new players in the Rebel lineup.
A talented blend of size and power, the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Scott has shown flashes of great potential at the low post. All of this comes as no surprise to Ole Miss head coach Rod Barnes and his staff, who knew of Scott's ability long before his arrival in Oxford.
"I really like Coach Barnes a lot and have known him since I was about 13," said Scott, who also goes by his first name, Warren. "Coach (Wayne) Brent had also been to see my games when I was in high school in Louisiana. Later on, when Coach Barnes came on an official visit, we just bonded. After that we've just been tight."
Scott's ability was first apparent in his playing days at Marion Abramson High School in New Orleans. Through three years of play, he finished as the school's all-time leading scorer and a three-time All-District pick. After his junior year in which he averaged 19.7 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game, Scott was runner-up for Louisiana Player of the Year.
Following his junior year, Scott transferred to Oak Hill Academy, a prep school in Virginia. While there, he helped lead the team to a 31-4 overall record and a No. 4 national ranking in USA Today's Super 25 Boys' High School Basketball Poll (No. 1 in the South Region Poll). The time at Oak Hill provided a different challenge for the former Louisiana high school standout.
"It was different because the competition level was higher," said Scott, who was ranked among the country's top 50 players throughout his high school career. "Oak Hill was one of the top 10 schools in the nation so we faced great teams every night."
Many sports fans will remember the televising of several of NBA rookie Lebron James' high school games on ESPN. In one such national broadcast, it was Scott's Oak Hill Academy team that faced off against the 18-year-old phenom.
"I got in the game and did pretty good," said Scott. "I just remember that it was packed that night and there were people everywhere."
Since arriving at Ole Miss, Scott has worked to make the transition to Division I basketball a smooth one. For him the biggest challenge has not come in games, but rather in the time spent preparing for games.
"The hardest thing so far is practice," said Scott. "Practices are harder than the games because the intensity level is so high, and you've got to bring it every day. You can't take any days off."
Part of Scott's main focus has been on improving his game around the basket. With help from teammates who have fought the frontline battles in the SEC, Scott is working to develop his game for the college level.
"I've got to work more on scoring with my back to the basket," said Scott. I wasn't used to doing it in high school, but the way the game is on this level I've got to be able to do it. The older guys have helped me out with a lot of different things, such as when to turn and when not to turn around the basket."
While Scott is adjusting to DI basketball, he is also transitioning to college life in Oxford, Miss. After living in New Orleans for so many years, Scott sees Oxford as a change of pace.
"Oxford is different," said Scott, a student in the College of Liberal Arts. "It's not like New Orleans, but then again neither is Oak Hill. In Oxford you have a lot of nice quiet time, and I think I've adjusted to that.
"In terms of academics, Oak Hill was at a higher level than most high schools. As a result, when I got to Ole Miss, I was already familiar with many of the things they were teaching."
When Scott is not busy in the classroom, he is still looking to do his part in helping turn around a team that just two years ago was competing for an NCAA tournament berth. "I really think we've got a good team," said Scott. "As soon as we come together as a group, things will turn around. The whole team is basically a new team. Although we've got so many new players, including myself, we can still put things together, because this team knows just how good it can be."
Perhaps by season's end, Rebel fans will be thanking newcomers like Scott for turning Ole Miss back toward the road to success.
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