Saturday, April 19, 2008

Durand Scott- It's All About Heart

Durand Scott, a 6'5 junior forward from Rice High School (NY) is one of the premiere members of the U-17 New York Gauchos team. Scott, despite injury, had an impressive performance at the Playaz Spring Fling in the games that I saw his squad play. He was a terrific complement to the team's foremost star, sophomore Doron Lamb. Durand has a quality all-around game, and will be play a major role in how the Gauchos do this spring and summer. I caught up with him after his team knocked off the Lloyd Daniels Rebels at the Playaz Spring Fling.

NB: That was a close game. Do you think you guys underestimated them, or did they just have a great game?
DS: Well, Lloyd Daniels [is] a tricky team, and they always come . . . to play us hard no matter what other game they played. Just always . . . when they [are] playing the Gauchos, they come out and play hard, so we knew it was going to a . . . little [bit of a] tough, but we just got to come out and just be smart and try to play hard. I don’t think we recognized that they all can shoot, and I think a few recognized it, but we didn’t recognize it as a team and that’s why we [were] falling short and that’s why they had such a great game against us.

NB: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Gauchos, such a prestigious AAU program, . . . such a highly regarded team?
DS: It feels great because I [have] been playing since I was nine, and it [doesn’t] matter how [much] worse the team could get, I’m still going to be here because this program is like a family to me, it did a lot for me, so I live and die with this program. I believe it’s the best.

NB: Again, talking about great programs, you also play for Rice [High School in New York]. What does that mean to you to [play] . . . for another prestigious program that has produced so many good players, [such as] Kemba Walker, Curtis Kelly, all those guys?
DS: Well, see with Rice, . . . with our coach [Mo Hicks], . . . he just makes the program, . . . Rice, so much better, because when we bring it over to the Gauchos, we use the same . . . statistics, and same defense, and same everything that he . . . gave us within Rice. That’s why I think we’ve been so successful, because most of our . . . players from Rice play with the Gauchos, and that’s why I think we were so successful last year, being [the] number one team.

NB: What [is the team] going to do to counteract losing guys like Chris Fouch and Kemba Walker [to graduation]?
DS: Well, losing those guys, it was hard because . . . they did a tremendous job for us, and they did a lot for us, and they [were] a big part of our team, and also not just as ballplayers, also [as] a family, but just losing them, we just had to get some other guys to step up, and that’s what we [are] trying to get now. It’s only our third game of AAU basketball [this season], we just created the team, . . . so I can’t complain, . . . I think we . . . [are] doing [well] so far.

NB: What about for [the] high school [team]?
DS: For high school, I think . . . this year, we [are] going to . . . do well this year, . . . because at Rice, it doesn’t matter what players [are] there, Mo Hicks [will] always make us play hard, so . . . every player that steps up is going to play hard, and I think we successful . . . every year, we just got to come out with the heart, and intensity, and pride, and you never, we might be [coming] up on top as number one.

NB: What are you personally going to do to step up?
DS: Personally, people say I should score to step up, but I don’t believe in [the theory that] scoring makes a . . . person step up, I think a leader does. I don’t have to score 20 points for us to win, . . . I just [have to] get my team ready for the . . . season and [have] everybody trust in me, making me a player that everybody wants to play with, that’s the type of player that I want to be. . . . I’m not shooting for camps, shooting for goals, and stuff like that, I’m just shooting . . . to be a player that everybody wants to play with.

NB: When you were in middle school and starting out your high school career, there was a lot of hype surrounding you. . . . Did any of that ever get to you? Was it ever too much to handle, or do you just . . . not think about any of that?
DS: It’s never too much to handle, I just go out there and play basketball. The news, . . . that’s for fans and the other people to read, that’s not my . . . style, I just go out there and play, and if they find [that] I’m a great player, then hey, then I just thank them for putting me in the newspapers, . . . just [for] making me so big, I just thank God for making me [able] to be where I’m at because this is a life opportunity.

NB: What colleges are you currently thinking about going to?
DS: Currently, I really wide-open, I’m not really thinking about going to a specific college, I’m not leaning anywhere, but as of now, I got . . . a lot of schools on my hands, and it’s very wide-open, and I couldn’t even tell you what I like and what I don’t like because everybody’s alike.

NB: What are some of the schools that have offered you?
DS: Offered, I got . . . UConn, Villanova, . . . Georgetown, West Virginia, Miami, Duke, Memphis, the list just goes on and on.

NB: What are you looking for in a school?
DS: Well, [what I’m] looking for in a school, I just want . . . to go somewhere [that is] . . . just like Gauchos and Rice, I want to look for somewhere where there’s a family, not just ballplayers, I want to be a family with a team because I believe [that] once there’s a family with a team, everything will come together on the courts, everybody’s going to play together, everybody’s going to play hard once we got a family. . . . If you just go to a school where you’re just one individual, and you’re just looking . . . for a one-and-done, then what’s the point of going to college, because you’re not making anybody better, and you’re . . . just being kind of selfish if you think about it, but me, I’m not really looking [at] somebody [specific], just wherever I go, I just want to do the best I can, be the best I can be.

NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game, and what do you think you need to work on the most as well?
DS: Well, the strongest part of my game is just playing with heart. I don’t really call that game, but that’s the main part of my game. It doesn’t matter if I’m taking a shot [or] playing defense, but every move I’m taking, every step I’m doing with heart, I’m doing with hard work, and I see my weakness probably . . . I’m going to go with what everybody says. Everybody says I need to get stronger, but I don’t believe so, I believe once you got heart and inside strength, . . . anything can happen, just all you got to do is believe in yourself, but I’m not saying I don’t need to work out, but I’m saying you do need to obviously, just work with heart, hard work, and pride, that’s it.

NB: What happened in the earlier game [today] with your hand injury?
DS: Well, [in] the first game, I ran into somebody and jammed my hand, and it’s kind of [swollen] up, but it’s hard for me to use my left hand right now, that’s why . . . basically I’m mainly going right, it’s kind of hard for me to even shoot because I can’t even keep the ball straight in my hands, but . . . I got to [tough it] out for my team because at this point, my team needs me and I don’t want to let them down, so I’m going to continue for the rest of this . . . tournament. After this tournament I hope to get better.

NB: Do you have a diagnosis, . . . or it just hurts?
DS: It just hurts as of now. I haven’t checked it out, so I don’t know what’s wrong with it, but as of now it’s just . . . in pain.

NB: Are you a lefty?
DS: No, . . . I’m actually right-handed.

NB: Do you guys have a goal for this tournament?
DS: A goal for this tournament is obviously to win, not even to win, just to win our last game. . . . I don’t want to go out [of] this tournament losing. . . . Even if we lose, we might have another game, but want to . . . [be] leaving this tournament winning, . . . so we [can] go forth to our next tournament, which is on the circuit and so we can do well. . . . This tournament [is] . . . kind of like preparation for the circuit. You know you got to take every game seriously, but this is just preparation to get our team together and make. . . us more of one unit and not five, so . . . that’s what we [are] trying to get with this tournament, that’s pretty much our goal.

Scott certainly has the heart to succeed. The talent . . . well, that's there too. Although Durand may not choose to take a leadership role through scoring, he certainly can. The Rice star is without a doubt one of the best New Yorkers in the class of 2009. Definitely watch out for Scott next year. Remember, even if he's not filling up the stats sheet, he is giving it his all one the court, and that's what a leader does.

Note- photo is from

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