A Smith-Cotton Tiger is now a Pioneer.
S-C senior Dante Scroggins signed his letter of intent Wednesday morning to play basketball at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas, surrounding by his parents, brothers, current and future coaches and a library full of adoring student fans.
“I feel great. I’m glad I’m going to a winning program,” Scroggins said. “Coming from Smith-Cotton, I’m just excited to get to the next chapter.”
Scroggins will be studying criminal justice while at MNU, and he said this new chapter in his basketball career wouldn’t be possible without his S-C coaches.
“They win. The family atmosphere. They win a national tournament almost every year and the coaches,” Scroggins said of why he decided on MidAmerica Nazarene.
Scroggins averaged 19.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in the 2015-16 season, shooting 46 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free-throw line. He also sank 60 three-point shots. Over his career as an S-C Tiger, he scored 988 points and grabbed 592 rebounds, both ranking him in the top 10 in school history.
“We are a team that loves to run, and the first time I saw Dante play, he gets a defensive rebound and flies the floor and shoots a layup, and I’m going ‘OK, this is the kind of kid we want,” said MNU Head Coach Rocky Lamar. “He’s also long, we like kids with length, and he can shoot a little bit so that means we can stretch the floor with him, so we’re very excited to have him.
“All the reports I get about him in school, he’s such a great citizen, which we really want too,” Lamar added. “People who are really good at fitting in, being a great member of the college community and I think he will be.”
The Pioneers are coming off an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament, falling to No. 1 Georgetown in the semifinals last week in Kansas City. The team finished the season 28-8 with a conference title and a run to the Fab Four. Lamar said they lost four players at the end of the season, but “we think Dante can definitely fit in one of those spots.”
Scroggins is the second athlete to sign with MNU so far. S-C Head Coach Brennan Scanlon said Scroggins received a full ride scholarship for five years at MNU, which is about $100,000.
“We’ve been looking forward to this day. This is what he’s worked so hard for the last couple years,” Scanlon said. “He put his mind to it that he wanted to be a college basketball player and get a full scholarship. … He’s going to get his education paid for and we’re all just so happy for him. … He’s going to a good program, a Hall of Fame coach. He’ll do real well there.”
Just last week Scroggins was named to the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Class 5 All-State first team. He is a two-time All-West Central Conference team selection, and he also made the All-District team this year.
“This last season, he had one of the best seasons any player’s had,” Scanlon said. “He was averaging 20 points a game and 10 rebounds and he had all the accolades a player could get. He was All-Conference for the second time, he was All-District, first team All-State. He was Player of the Year in different newspapers; I’ve kind of lost track of all his accolades. … What he did this year is a fitting end to his career.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.