In February 2020 Joshua Scott (185-G-98, college: Thomas Univ.) played his last NAIA game against Keiser University and then came COVID that changed the whole world. For the psychology major from Thomas University now came the moment of truth about whether he would seek a 9-5 job or attempt a professional career overseas. Witnessing NAIA players overseas is about as rare as it is ever was to see Ben Wallace go 10/10 from the free throw line. They do exist, but they are really rare. Scott had the choice of possibly using his major as a career’s advisor, or an education consultant or possibly a social researcher. The type of jobs he could do weren’t scarce, but instead he decided to try a professional basketball career. It will surprise many people, but former NBA greats like Elgin Baylor, Willis Reed, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman all came from the NAIA. So in a sense, you can never underestimate an NAIA player. They are around, but they just aren’t as abundant as NCAA players. Thomas University had their first player go pro in 2017 with William Cruz, but in Scott’s team of 2020 saw him and three other players go pro with Dexter Hood, Cedric Wright and Nick Kunchulia. The German lower leagues see NAIA players on a more constant rate as guys like Stanley Whittaker and Mark Gordon have been two guys that have given the name walking bucket a new meaning. Joshua Scott had a solid rookie season in North Macedonia and now is looking to make the next step in a higher league in Austria with the Kapfenberg Bulls (Austria BSL). The Florida native is more than thankful that he hasn’t had to take on a 9-5 job quite yet. ‘It’s a blessing indeed, I thank God every day. I wasn’t presented with a great opportunity only a few months after I graduated to leave and play in Macedonia. I was prepared to sit out a year because of Covid. So when I got the shot I jumped on it, NAIA player turned pro, that’s just a blessing from God himself’, stressed Joshua Scott. He is just another rare NAIA player living the ultimate basketball dream overseas.
Joshua Scott who remembers never playing Thomas University teammate Dexter Hood in one on one, but remembering he was always first in team sprints was born on January 19th, 1998 in St Petersburg Florida. He began his career at St Petersburg high school and then proceeded to play two years at Florida State College of Jacksonville (NJCAA). Playing JUCO is never an easy task as every guy there has his own unique story and wants to earn a ticket out and up the ladder to the NAIA or NCAA. It wasn’t any different for him. Hearing from ex JUCO players that their time there were the most instrumental in their basketball life has been as copious as it has been seeing Derrick Rose execute the floater. ‘FSCJ made me into the player that I am. It was my only offer coming out of high school so I made sure I worked hard every day there. Playing against D1 transfers and guys really trying to get to that D1 level opened my eyes to how hard I needed to work’, remembered Joshua Scott. His good play and development there as a player rewarded him with a NAIA gig at Thomas University where he had two very potent seasons averaging 17.8ppg, 5.6rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 48.8%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 81.7% and as a senior averaged 15.4ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 41.7%, 3PT: 35.7%, FT: 86.4%. He scored in double figures in 28 of 40 NAIA games including hitting for 20 points or more 18 times. His most spectacular performance came against Florida Tech in a tough 92-85 loss where he exploded for 46 points on 16-22 shooting. ‘Everything in that game just felt so easy. Passing lanes, open shots, the game felt so simple for me. One thing I remember though was my coach yelling at me to shoot more. I got to point and I was like ‘man I think I shot enough’ but he wanted me to keep shooting. When I finally saw the box score and it said 46, I was surprised but I was upset because they got my assists wrong’, remembered Joshua Scott. Thinking that the success of a player and coach is only about being lovey-dovey is a misconception. For Scott not always having his relationship with Brenton Crews be good was key in him being able to mature the right way. ‘Coach Crews and I had our ups and downs but that’s how I feel like any great relationship with a coach is formed. He wanted the best from me and I thank him for not letting me be average. If it wasn’t for him and my JUCO coach I wouldn’t be the player I am today’, warned Joshua Scott. Even if he never won a title at Thomas University, he had a very stellar two year career there that he wouldn’t have swapped for anything in the world. ‘My coach really pushed me to play both ends of the court. Before I really didn’t understand why he was so tough on me when it came to the defensive end but now I know. In order to keep a job as an offensive player only, you really have to be a professional scorer. But with defense, you can find a job anywhere’, stressed Joshua Scott.
The guard who lists LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Shaquille O’Neal on his personal NBA Mount Rushmore began his professional basketball career at KK Kozuv AD Gevgelija (North Macedonia-Prva Liga) playing 25 games averaging 12.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 4.4apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.6%, 3PT: 31.0%, FT: 70.5%. It is never easy for guys who come overseas to make a rapid adjustment as so many factors have to be calculated in how a player can get used to all the things happening on and off the court that have never been seen before. Obviously playing in some countries like Germany where most people understand English is easier than if your going into the back woods of Romania or Hungry to play for a small town team. It wasn’t any different in North Macedona where he had to learn to communicate with his teammates somehow who didn’t have the English language down. On top of that, he had further restrictions in his daily life with COVID which came and never went away. He had to also deal with COVID in a foreign land, but he made the best of it. ‘The Covid year in Macedonia was extremely tough. Being on constant lock down and not able to go anywhere and explore the country sucked. Covid definitely made me mentally tougher. It challenged me in ways most people wouldn’t understand unless they went through it’, stated Joshua Scott. Even if the adjustment in North Macedonia wasn’t always easy off the court, he was fortunate to have had Antwan Maxwell as a teammate who also had balled in the NAIA. ‘It was cool for the short time he was there. We played against each other in college so I was familiar with his game. Made it a lot easier to build chemistry quickly on the court. I would say we pushed either equally to be great’, expressed Joshua Scott.
This season the ex Florida State College of Jacksonville guard who hasn’t seen the sequel to the classic Coming To America believes that if they didn’t make a part two back in the day, you don’t need one now is playing his second professional season in Austria with the Kapfenberg Bulls. So far everything has been perfect for the sunny boy from Florida on and off the court. ‘Austria it’s self is so beautiful and peaceful. As for the team, everyone from the trainers to the front office work hard at their job. The bulls have built a hard working and family environment and it shows on and off the court’, said Joshua Scott. The club is filled with many Austrian players, but also two Serbs, a Slovenian and a Croatian player. But he also has two fluent English speakers with Americans Justin Briggs and Kareem Jamar. It is always profitable being able to learn from a veteran. ‘Kareem has been almost like a mentor to me. He’s a veteran and has played in countries I am trying to get to. So I try to pick his brain every chance I get’, commented Joshua Scott.The toughest player that he ever played against that was in the NBA was Josh Selby and he has been compared to Brandon Jennings in his playing style. This season in Austria with the Bulls he has been asked to take on the role of giving his best at both ends of the court and being a vocal guy that leads his team to success. In Austria this season, he has been asked to be a type of player that he wasn’t necessarily in the past. ‘In the last my ability to create my own shot was something that made me a stand out player. Since coming to Europe though I have focused more on using my creativity to get the next man the shot’, stated Joshua Scott. You don’t see defense until the playoffs in the NBA and many shoot outs in the G-league, but in Europe the game of basketball is different and teams take pride on defense. He didn’t turn his head the other way on defense, but knows that if you can be a good defender in Europe, then most likely you will have a long career. ‘In the past I hated defense, I wanted to save my energy for offense. I would give up bucket after bucket. But now I love locking up and then going down and giving the defender a bucket’, warned Joshua Scott. He definitely has the talent to keep climbing the basketball ladder in Europe. He will always know that nothing was ever handed to him on a golden platter and that he will have to keep grinding in the lab. He has a really good head on his shoulder and knows where he came from. He knows now why he landed in the NAIA. ‘I wouldn’t say I was too good to be in the NAIA. I think that’s where I was called to be. I ended up with a very good head coach who was a standout player and coach at the D1 level; he really helped me elevate my game to get to the next level. With that being said, being an NAIA player was definitely a motivation to me. I always felt like I could play with the best of them given the chance to grow’, stressed Joshua Scott. He will give his debut in Germany this week in a Fiba Europe Cup game against medi Bayreuth. He will be able to match up against Cameron Wells who battled Steph Curry in the NCAA a decade ago and held his own and wonder if his game will be good enough for the BBL or Pro A in Germany. ‘The basketball in Germany is one of the higher levels in Europe. Somewhere I am striving to get to within the next few years’, warned Joshua Scott. Almost a year ago Stanley Whittaker said the same thing and this season he is in Germany. Whittaker came from the NAIA and was in Austria in his second season just like Scott. Who knows maybe we will see Joshua Scott in Germany next season?