WILLETTON Tigers star Damien Scott feels honoured to be reaching his 250-game milestone in the SBL aged just 26 and while he only feels at the halfway point of the journey, he already couldn’t have asked for more from his career.
Scott came through at Cockburn always seen as a promising junior and he went on to make his SBL debut as a 17-year-old in 2010 and he’s virtually never looked back.
Along the way he spent several seasons as a development player in the NBL at the Perth Wildcats and it wasn’t beyond the realms that he would end up with a full contract at a couple of periods of time.
While that didn’t quite happen, Scott has gone on to have an outstanding SBL career that is only just warming up as he gears up for his 250th game milestone when he leads the Tigers into battle against the Perry Lakes Hawks at Bendat Basketball Centre on Easter Thursday.
Scott would go on to play the first 124 games of his career with the Cougars and was a key piece of the team that would go on to win the championship in 2012.
However by the end of the 2014, he was lured to the Tigers by then coach Alan Black and has again never looked back.
Now playing under Steve Black, Scott has been a key piece of a Willetton team that over the past three seasons has been a genuine contender and knocking on the door of breaking through for that Grand Final appearance, including being minor premiers in 2017.
Right across his 249-game career made up of 124 at the Cougars and 125 at the Tigers, Scott has been one of the most consistent and dangerous shooting guards across the SBL.
That saw him come into this season averaging 16.2 points a game while shooting 44.4 per cent from the field and 32.8 per cent from three-point territory.
Always a consistent contributor and then on his night a flat out match-winner, Scott deserves to be proud of those first 249 games and he is honoured to now reach a milestone like 250 games when he still feels like he has so much of his career to go.
“It does make you feel pretty lucky that you’ve been able to play so many games for two great clubs without any serious injuries, which has obviously helped me get to 250 games pretty soon,” Scott said.
“Winning a championship as well in that 250 means a lot and it’s obviously a great milestone to reach that I’m very proud of. I feel very lucky to have got there as well.
“I don’t really think about any future milestones I might be able to reach. My body is still holding up pretty well so I feel like I have a lot of basketball left in me, but I’m just taking things as they come.
“I’m not really too worried about what milestone is next, I’m just pretty happy and feel lucky to be hitting 250 and be still playing with a body that’s pretty healthy. It would obviously be great if I reach other milestones down the track but it’s not something I’m focused on.”
What a milestone like reaching 250 games does is provide a chance for reflection and when Scott looks back on his journey to this point, while he would have liked the chance to be a professional along the way, he wouldn’t change anything about what he’s accomplished in the SBL.
“In terms of my SBL career, I can’t see anything that I haven’t done that I would have hoped,” he said.
“Obviously you want to win as many championships as you can and I’ve managed to win one, and in terms of playing I’ve absolutely thoroughly enjoyed myself. Every team I’ve played on I’ve absolutely loved and that’s one of the main reasons I’ve played where I have.
“Nothing really stands out I have missed out on and hopefully I can stay fit and healthy for another eight seasons and do a lot more of what I’ve already been able to do. I’ll be stoked for that.”
As for his role this season, for Scott it hasn’t changed too much except that in the absence so far of new captain Andrew Black, he’s both had to step into the captaincy role on game day and also take on a bit more of the ball-handling duties alongside Jackson Hussey.
“My role is always pretty much the same. I get out there and run the floor, get good spacing going for the team and my role doesn’t generally change too much,” Scott said.
“But with Kyle (Armour) leaving and Blacky not being in at the moment, I am playing the point a little bit more and I’m actually enjoying that. But that’s the only way my role’s really changed and I like what Steve asks of me.
“I’m vice-captain of the team this year but with Blacky out I have been captain for the games so far and I’ve been stepping up a little bit more.
“Normally I’m pretty reserved but now that I’m one of the older players and have played 250 games, you have to have something to say generally. As much as I don’t really enjoy speaking up, I’ve had to take that role as one of the leaders of the team.”
It hasn’t quite been the start to the season Scott and the Tigers were hoping for, currently holding a 3-4 record heading into the Easter Thursday clash with Perry Lakes.
But Scott was realistic to know it was always going to take time to blend in the new arrivals like Hussey, Mo Barrow, Marcanvis Hymon and Michael Garbellini.
“It’s not exactly the start that we wanted but there’s probably a few games in there we would have liked to win,” he said.
“We certainly have the talent but I’m not sure if it’s the new team because we pretty much have four new members of the starting five or what it is. But we just need to sort it out and get on the same page, and start executing what Steve’s putting down for us.
“It can also take a few weeks for any new team to gel but it’s probably taking us a little longer than we expected or wanted. I have played with Huss a lot before though. I played all my juniors with him until he left for the AIS so know him pretty well and more recently played with him in Malaysia.
“So I was excited to play with him again and then Mo is a great guy who has been in the league a few years so we know what he’s capable of. Once we all start clicking and gelling, we should be sitting quite nicely and be a pretty strong team.”
While this year will have its challenges for Willetton with the redevelopment going on around them, Scott and everyone involved in the Tigers couldn’t be more excited to look ahead into the future to when they have their own brand new stadium to train and play out of.
“It’s super exciting to think about our new stadium. Whenever it’s finished, it’s going to be absolutely magical,” Scott said.
“Playing in the new stadium like they have at Perry Lakes or Warwick or Joondalup, you get a bit jealous of their facilities, but to have one of those as our home court that we can train at every week will be unreal.
“It will be so beneficial to the team when you have great facilities and everyone’s on the same page. I’m just super excited to have a fresh gym to walk into and for all the junior competitions to come back to the one stadium so the club is all together is going to be great.
“We’ll get to see all our juniors coming through and they’ll get to see our faces more and that should lead to bigger crowds. It will be massively beneficial to the whole club and I’m super excited for the facility to be finished and for us to use it.”