When Maryland dipped into the Philadelphia prep/high school basketball scene to snag a small forward/power forward prospect two years ago, they cast a wide net to fill a role in Mark Turgeon’s offensive scheme. What they got was a hidden gem, and arguably one of the most difficult match-ups in the Big Ten to prepare for from a defensive standpoint. In his Junior year for Maryland Basketball, Donta Scott has transformed into just that. Using his size (6’8, 230 lbs.), athleticism, and advanced guard skills for his size, Scott has turned into a bonafide problem for opposing defenses to contend with. Coming out of Imhotep Charter School in Philadelphia, PA, he’d already made his mark by becoming a two-time PIAA State player of the year and becoming a 4-star prospect.
Needless to say, he’s continued to grow into the type of player the Maryland Basketball faithful have envisioned, becoming a leader and an extremely versatile piece of the team roster, and one of the pillars of the program going forward. Equally adept at facing the basket as he is at working down low in the post, his presence on the floor often puts both the guards and power forwards that end up guarding him at a disadvantage. The last two seasons, in particular, have seen the outside shooting proficiency in his game grow by leaps and bounds. As this season winds its’ way through the wilds of the Big Ten schedule, Scott (along with the backcourt tandem of Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell) will be an essential cog in the push for an NCAA tournament birth. Here’s how Donta could make that quest a lot easier to obtain going forward.
Offensive & Defensive Versatility
For those of us Maryland Basketball fans that have watched Scott grow in this program, one thing is certain; He has the tools to finish his career as one of the most skilled and versatile forwards that this program has seen in its’ history. He’s an impressive ball-handler for his size, which gives the terrapins another body outside of the guards to bring the ball up and initiate the offense. Scott is particularly hard to deal with in isolation situations with the ball in his hands. He’s arguably one of the best on the team in terms of attacking his match-up off of the dribble. He also has the ability to stretch the floor, as evidenced by his 3-pt. shooting percentage from last season (43.9%), which was the 5th highest single-season mark in school history. If Donta can re-visit that form that served him last year, he’s going to be incredibly difficult to deal with one-on-one as the Big Ten season goes into February. In turn, that threat of a consistent 3rd scoring option could really benefit the terps as the chances for quality wins present themselves.
Toughness & Leadership
It can’t be stated enough that Scott has become one of the leaders on this team. Often, how he performs and leads has a direct correlation to how the squad deals with adversity. In games where Scott has been assertive on both ends of the floor, it’s had a cascading effect on his team’s overall performance. When the terrapins need to be physical, it’s Scott that often leads the charge on both ends of the floor. As the terps face the Purdue’s and Michigan State’s of the Big Ten during this conference stretch, that toughness will keep them in games at minimum, and make Maryland Basketball an extremely tough out at their best. Of course, don’t Scott is the catalyst for the team, so he needs to be iron-like in his resolve to keep his game consistent during this stretch. Having that toughness rub off on frosh big man Julian Reese and highly touted Georgetown transfer Qudus Wahab would be a boon for terrapin post-season hopes, too.
For all intents and purposes, Donta Scott is a barometer for this team’s fortunes. An aggressive, assertive Scott could be that 3rd scoring option that could see Maryland Basketball really turn the corner for the remainder of the season. In the last three games, we’ve seen flashes of that player returning, which is a great sign for the growth of the team as the bigger games of this season loom on the horizon.