It’s one thing to play well during easier parts of the schedule. It’s another to ascend to the peak of your powers during the most important stretches of the season. Players like Kemba Walker and Steph Curry were elevated to college basketball royalty not just because they scorched nets in November but because they laid waste to their opponents in March.
Although Trevon Scott didn’t reach the same rarefied air as Walker and Curry last season, he certainly ended the year with a ton of momentum. Starting with the penultimate game of the regular season and stretching to the Cincinnati Bearcats’ unfortunately short stay in the NCAA Tournament, Scott averaged 13 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three on 2.2 attempts a contest. In that six-game span, he helped carry the Bearcats to their second-straight American Athletic Conference tournament title while playing arguably the best basketball of his collegiate career.
That’s not to say that Scott didn’t play well in the previous 29 games. In fact, outside of Jarron Cumberland, Scott was the team’s best and most valuable player, ranking second on the roster in win shares (4.1). It was quite the jump for Scott, who went from a reserve big man in his first two seasons to a player who the Bearcats couldn’t survive without.
An increase in playing time obviously helped to increase the volume Scott was able to produce. He went from averaging 12.5 minutes per game to 30.6 between his sophomore and junior seasons and that gave him more chances to score, grab rebounds, hand out assists, block shots and produce steals. He did all of those things, setting career-highs in points (9.3 per game), rebounds (6.9 per game), assists (1.5 per game), steals (0.8 per game) and blocks (0.5 per game), even though his usage rate didn’t actually reach a personal best mark.
This wasn’t just a case of Scott stumbling his way to better production by virtue of more playing time, especially in terms of scoring. By averaging 18.7 points per 100 possessions, Scott had a better pace than his previous two seasons. In addition, although his shooting rates fell slightly, a lot of that had to do with the expanded range of his game. Rather than being limited to layups and shots inside the paint, Scott was able to stretch the floor and even became a somewhat reliable three-point shooter, hitting 30.8 percent from distance on 1.1 attempts per game.
In addition to his work at creating his own shot, Scott continued to exhibit solid passing and ball control skills for a frontcourt player. His assist rate (9.7 percent) was fifth on the team among players to appear in at least 10 games and trailed only Cumberland, Justin Jenifer, Cane Broome and Logan Johnson. In case you forgot, three of those players were classified as point guards and the other was the AAC’s Player of the Year. In addition, he slashed his turnover rate down to 11.2 percent from the 18.6 percent rate he managed the year before.
When you put it all together, Scott more than doubled his offensive win share total from the previous season and also posted an offensive rating of 115.6, which was down from the 2017-18 season but still an impressive mark.
It’s crazy to think that we’ve gone more than 500 words without discussing Scott’s defensive contributions especially since he was much more of a defensive force prior to last season. That just speaks to how much he has improved on the offensive side of the floor. However, evaluating his defense shows that he continued to be effective. As he was tasked with guarding first units more often than ever, his defensive rating did creep up to 97.1 but he still produced two defensive win shares. He didn’t have the gaudy numbers in steals and blocks that some of his teammates produced, but he was able to defend multiple positions and rarely made mistakes.
Head coach John Brannen is going to make some changes around the Bearcats this season but one thing he shouldn’t change is Scott’s role. The 6’8” forward is the most important player on the roster not named Jarron Cumberland and if the skills he displayed last season — especially at the end of the year — carry over and even improve, then the Bearcats will be playing in plenty of important games down the stretch.