ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School sports has created a truckload of NCAA Division I athletes in the past 20 years; mainly girls soccer with their dominance landing more top tier scholarships …
ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School sports has created a truckload of NCAA Division I athletes in the past 20 years; mainly girls soccer with their dominance landing more top tier scholarships under coach Mike Pickett, but Thursday, it was girls basketball taking the lead with senior point guard Taliah Scott inking a ride to the University of Arkansas.
“I’ve been to the school twice and just love the atmosphere and the coaches,” said Scott, who averaged a bit over 30 points per game last year with 6.2 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 4.0 assists. “I think I will be able to complete quickly in the system with my skill set.”
Note: Arkansas is currently unbeaten; 4-0, in regular season play after seasons of 18-14 and 19-9 under coach Mike Neighbors who is the winningest coach against Division opponents in his nine years.
St. Johns coach Yolanda Bronston has had Scott for two years and has seen the emergence of Scott as a nationally-acclaimed player.
“Obviously her skill level is the first thing coaches notice,” said Bronston. “What she has done is become a great team leader and to bring her teammates along with her. Her approach to the game brings her teammates to a higher level.”
Bronston got Scott after Scott lead the 8A Oakleaf High basketball team to a state semifinal, but Bronston did not think there was any transition time for Scott when she arrived at St. Johns Country Day School.
“Her game is her game whether she is at the 8A level of the 2A level,” said Bronston. “Taliah is going to do what Taliah does. Right now, I’d like to find a way to clone her to keep a version of her here for a while.”
Scott, who had nearly 30 offers from colleges across the country, had two games above 50 points, five games above 40 and six above 30 for her immense point production.
“I never really had a top five,” said Scott. “They were the first school to show the commitment. They came to a lot of my games and kept in touch.”
Bronston concurred that Scott’s physical preparation to step on the Arkansas court has been impressive.
“Her practices are already like a college level athlete and I can’t wait to see her at that next level,” said Bronston.
As for her preparations, Scott, a wicked outside shooter, a tenacious inside drive specialist and a dominating face-to-face defender, Arkansas is asking for one small piece of the puzzle.
“After talking to coach Neighbors, the main thing they want from me this year is to get stronger,” said Scott. “This season, I want to work on perfecting stuff in my midrange and being ready to translate my game to the college level. I want to have fun with my team to see how far we can go.”
Under coach Yolanda Bronston, at St. Johns for four years, Scott has been asked to be a more vocal leader and to pull the rest of the talented Spartans; with the talents of feisty guard duo Juliet Moody, a senior, and long-range shooter Mary Kate Kent a junior with an astounding 69 three pointers, and senior power forward Semaj Williams, Scott wants to improve on last year’s 21-6 season record, but, more importantly, the Spartans early exit in the region playoffs, a region semifinal loss to top-seed Florida A&M, 53-45. St. Johns also looks to avenge a district championship game loss to University Christian. University Christian eventually lost in the Class 2A state semifinal.
“I know I’m not the loudest person on the court and coach Bronston wants me to be more vocal out there,” said Scott. “We have a lot of players that are talented and it’s my job to put that all together.”
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