For Jalen Scott, the road to becoming a leader for the Clarksville Tigers wasn’t exactly a straightforward one. But after a childhood that saw him living and playing basketball overseas and across the country for several years, that’s exactly what Scott has become, and was the key piece in the Tigers’ offense this past season.
In his senior year, Scott averaged 16 points per game, emerging as one of the purest shooters in the entire area, shooting nearly 56% from the field and 38% from 3-point range, earning him the distinction of being the Red River Valley All-Area Offensive Player of the Year.
Though originally from Mount Pleasant, Scott spent most of his childhood years living in Japan on a military base, as his father served in the Navy for a number of years.
“I lived in Japan from second grade basically until halfway through my eighth grade year,” Scott said. “I loved it. Japan is amazing. Me and all the friends I made there, we felt like we were born there, even though we weren’t, and we represented Japan. I’d love to go back some day.”
It was while in Japan that Scott began playing basketball and fell in love with the sport. And while Japan follows the same rulebook as American basketball, he said the style of play was noticeably different in the east Asian country.
“They play really fast in Japan, and they’re always looking to run,” Scott said. “They don’t play in the halfcourt too much.”
Another key difference between the American game and the Japanese style of play that Scott picked up on is a Japanese aversion to jumpshots.
“In Japan, it’s all about the paint — getting layups and posting up,” he said. “They don’t shoot jump shots. They just don’t really do it at all.”
Despite the tendency to focus on scoring from point-blank range, Scott looked at some of his favorite American basketball players and decided he wanted to become a sharpshooter. And so he set about working on his jump shot, honing his skill until he was one of the most reliable scorers on the team.
Towards the end of eighth grade, Scott moved to California. It was in California that Scott began to turn heads with his play on the basketball court, both with an AAU team and his high school team,
“I was playing pretty good, and it got me noticed as a player a bit,” he said. “I got recruited to go to this other school. The coaches (on the AAU team) were tough but they wanted the best for you and wanted you to be ready for high school ball.”
Then, after about two years of high school on the west coast, Scott returned to Northeast Texas, and moved to Clarksville.
Things were going exceptionally well for Scott, until he tore his ACL, beginning a long and difficult rehab process.
“There were some days it was hard,” he said. “It was tedious and it felt like there was a metal rod going through my leg but I did it.”
Through hard work and determination, Scott was ready to suit up in time for the start of his senior year, and he played every game.
On the court, Scott can score in a number of ways, making it difficult for opposing teams to handle him. Scott is able to score reliably from downtown and from mid-range shots. And though he prefers to pull up for shots off the dribble, he is also more than capable of moving without the ball and shooting in catch-and-pop situations.
And not only is Scott one of the purest shooters in the area, but he’s worked tirelessly to expand his offensive game even further and is now a threat to drive and take it to the rim.
“I can go up with my right or left, so whichever way a defender is playing me, I can go up with that side,” he said. “When I’m on my game and my shots are falling, I feel like nobody on the opposite team really can stop me.”
Scott’s offensive prowess was on full display this year in an 82-30 thrashing of Detroit. Scott scored 24 points in the game, and he shot a perfect 4-4 from downtown. Another of his signature performances from the past season came in a heart-stopping four point loss to McLeod. Scott led the way for the Tigers in the game with 23 points, 15 of which came on 3-pointers.
Scott also sizzled through much of the team’s playoff run, as his hot hand helped Clarksville reach the area round, where they fell in heartbreaking fashion to top-seeded Martin’s Mill.
“The playoff run was amazing to me; this was my first playoffs with these guys,” Scott said. “People doubted us against Union Grove and thought we didn’t have what it took to beat them, but we proved them wrong.”
After graduation, Scott said he hopes to continue basketball collegiately at Paris Junior College, before transfering to the University of Texas and playing for the Longhorns.
“I’m definitely going to miss all my teammates and coaches here at Clarksville,” Scott said. “I’m never going to forget the friends and coaches here, but I’m excited to play at the next level too.”