February 9, 2016, published in SLAM Magazine, Issue 196
All it took was one play.
Colorado big man Josh Scott, then just an eighth-grader, challenged his mother, a former baller for the Air Force Academy, to one-on-one in the family’s driveway.
Already 6-4, Scott pounded the ball and drove to the rim hard, accidentally giving his mother a bruise that stung for two weeks. There were no more family games after that.
“She always tells that story,” Scott says. “It’s one of her favorites.”
Now the 6-10, 245-pound senior controls the paint in the Pac-12. He led the conference in offensive boards per game (3.4) and finished third with 8.4 rpg and 1.8 bpg in 2014-15, and he’s improved per game scoring (17.8) and rebounding (9.8) numbers this season.
Sick of his teammates clowning him as “The Charge Taker” and motivated by the arrival of shot-blocking guru/teammate Wesley Gordon, Scott worked to swat everything in sight.
“It’s a great feeling to know that someone thinks that they’re about to get a layup and you just erase the basket,” Scott says.
Scott missed eight games to a back injury last season, but this time around he has played–starred, really–in each of the 14-4 Buffs games.
“When I got hurt it kind of felt like I was coming back to being under the radar,” Scott says. “For me it’s like, I’ve been there, done that. I’ve succeeded in coming through that as a kind of motivation.”
“If people want to underestimate me, they’ll find out that that’s the wrong thing to do.”
Colorado has something to prove, too, after missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years. “No one wants to go through a season like we did last year,” Scott says. “There’s kind of motivation and fire to make sure that that doesn’t happen again.”