April 19, 2013
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Matt Daniel is smiling a lot more today.
The second-year coach’s building project in Marshall women’s basketball has found a cornerstone he said was crucial, after landing the first recruit in the spring signing period for 2013-14.
Leah Scott, a 5-foot-11 versatile wing player from Iowa Western Community College, is the first MU “get” of the spring. She was a National Junior College All-America second team selection this season, averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
“I didn’t commit ahead of time,” Scott said Thursday from the IWCC campus when told Daniel was kind of sweating the arrival of her faxed letter. “Coach Daniel didn’t have any idea what I was going to do until I called him five minutes before we sent in the papers.
“I picked Marshall because I fell in love with what Coach Daniel is about, his style of coaching, the way his team plays and how he wants to build there. It came down to Marshall and Tennessee Tech, but in the last couple of weeks I thought about it a lot and I just felt like I belonged at Marshall.
Scott, from Westland, Mich., starred at Inkster High School, where her father, Dwayne Scott, is still the coach. She signed with Central Michigan and played only briefly for the Chippewas in 2011-12 before heading to Iowa Western under unusual circumstances.
In high school, she also was recruited by UTEP, Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Chattanooga (Scott’s birth city). This year, she was recruited by USF, Clemson, Florida, Eastern Michigan and Tennessee Tech.
“Leah’s a key piece of the puzzle for us, and this starts out (the spring) good for us,” said Daniel, who landed five high school signees in the fall and plans to recruit “three to six” JUCO products this spring. “A second-team All-American says a lot about the kind of player she is. She first played for a good Division I program at Central Michigan, and at Iowa Western, she helped carry her team on a national level.”
Iowa Western finished 25-6 and until it lost in the Region XI title game was ranked 16th in the final regular-season JUCO poll. Daniel said Scott received quality coaching at IWCC from Jim Turgeon, the brother of Maryland men’s Coach Mark Turgeon.
Scott, who will turn age 20 on April 30, said she wants to major in communications at MU.
She will enter Marshall with two seasons of eligibility remaining, but said she hopes to regain an additional year because of her short time at Central Michigan – she played 26 minutes in only three games (1.7 points per game) at the start of the 2011-12 season -- and how she left the Mid-American Conference school.
“I didn’t play much, but I was happy and then my dad got sick and I had to drop out,” Scott said. “He had a stroke and couldn’t talk for a while, and I just let my grades go and then left because I was worried about him at home.
“I needed to go back to school, and my dad knew Coach Turgeon and they talked and my dad said I could go to Iowa Western. And I said, ‘Iowa?’ So, I went there for the second semester starting in January (2012) but I didn’t play that semester.
“I feel like while I’ve been here (at IWCC), I grew a lot.”
Daniel said Scott “can play anywhere on the floor, from 1 to 5. She just has a great feel for the game, and she can score. Her versatility is the biggest thing, and is something we have longed for and we lacked here. I’m really excited to have her on our roster.”
Scott, who visited Marshall in December just before Christmas, said she played the 1, 2 and 3 spots for Iowa Western. Daniel sees her as a wing, and Scott said she hopes to use her athleticism and wingspan – “I’m 5-11 but with a 6-2 wingspan,” she said – to her advantage.
“I love driving off picks and screens and I can pull up and shoot the three,” Scott said. “I’m not as tall, but people say I play a lot like Lisa Leslie. Some people here call me ‘Little Lisa.’ I try to use my arms to post smaller players.”
Scott shot 42.8 percent from the floor, including 26.4 percent from behind the arc. She had a 61.4-percent free throw marksmanship.