Donta Scott on offseason progress, being a leader for freshmen class, confidence in 23-24 team


After last year’s season-ending loss to Alabama, Scott was one of three players who faced a stay-or-go decision and spent weeks ironing out his decision. As time progressed, the odds that Scott was back in College Park gradually grew before officially announcing his return on April 10, solidifying the starting frontcourt for head coach Kevin Willard.

Now, no player enters the 2023-24 season with more career starts at Maryland than Donta Scott, who is back for a fifth season in College Park and will likely make his 115th career start against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 7.

Reese and Jahmir Young both drew headlines through the offseason as pivotal pieces for a potential run, but head coach Kevin Willard pointed to Scott as the one who’s had “the best preseason.”

“There’s a whole lot of things off Donta’s plate now where he can just kind of focus on basketball a little bit and he’s not getting talked about enough, he’s not getting enough credit. Everyone’s talking about Jahmir and Julian for good reasons, and the freshmen for good reasons, but Donta Scott [has] had a great offseason. I think he’s poised to really have a breakout season even though he’s a senior.”

A big part of Scott’s renewed mindset comes from his commitment to staying in shape.

“I’m trying to manage the food that I eat and [eat] a lot better. Even though you have slip-ups, I’ve been trying to manage that a lot more. I feel like I’ve been in good shape, but not the best of shape. I can always be in better shape. Just working hard every day in practice with these guys is pushing me to my limits and showing me places I really need to develop at.”

Scott enters the season 28th on Maryland’s all-time scoring list (1,320) and tied for 15th in career rebounds (704) alongside Johnny Rhodes, but the experience he brings to the Terps’ roster is where he’s been most impactful this offseason.

“I feel like I’ve grown not just as a basketball player, but as a man. On the basketball court, knowing and understanding certain things, understand it’s not going to be my best every night but the best thing I can do is go hard and help my team just by talking to them, motivating them,” Scott said. “When it is my best night, helping guys understand that even though you didn’t have the best night, your night is to come.”

How impactful the freshmen class proves to be could determine just how far Maryland goes this season. DeShawn Harris-Smith, Jamie Kaiser Jr. and Jahn Lamothe have made sure they’re staying prepared, staying consistent with daily 7 AM workouts. “Every day since they stepped on campus they’ve been in the gym at 7 AM, preparing themselves to get ready. And again, from a physical standpoint, they’re going to be able to compete. I have tremendous confidence in them because of how hard they’ve worked in the three months they’ve been on campus,” Willard added.

Scott admitted the current Maryland team is “one of the most talented rosters I’ve been a part of, especially with the freshmen coming in” as he shares what leaves him most confident.

“We have a lot more length and we have a lot more ability to switch when it comes to certain players. Especially if we play a big lineup, a lot of those guys can switch because they can guard the ball and stuff like that now so I feel like just that key part and just the physicality behind a lot of guys. Some guys are more physical than others and I feel like that helps the guys that are less physical.”

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