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Scott transfers from Schlarman to Urbana

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Scott transfers from Schlarman to Urbana

URBANA — Chris Mennig knew plenty about Arieal Scott well before he took over as Urbana’s girls’ basketball coach this spring. He knew about her pure shooting stroke. He knew about her ability to handle the ball, and he knew that her basketball IQ, cultivated over years at Schlarman and on the AAU circuit, was high for a prep standout.

Now the rising junior will play for the former St. Thomas More coach after her family moved into the Urbana district.

“Obviously, I’ve been aware of Arieal and her family’s abilities from my time at St. Thomas More and them attending camps as middle schoolers,” Mennig said. “The plan at that time, the family had discussed the idea of moving to the Champaign-Urbana area to play under me at St. Thomas More. Obviously, that storyline did not play out, and now here we are and the family has looked to relocate to the Urbana district. I think they found the value of the athletics and academic aspect to be of value to their family.”

Even if he wasn’t an area girls’ basketball coach, Mennig would have known about Scott. Mennig, who coached St. Thomas More for seven seasons from 2006 until 2014, works full time as the event coordinator and national evaluator at Blue Star Basketball, a national evaluation and college showcase organization.

Scott, who has a scholarship offer from Illinois among several others, is on Blue Star’s radar.

“We have her as a top 100 player in the country in Blue Star,” Mennig said. “She’s probably the best pure shooter, at least during my time in this region, that we’ve seen in a couple of decades. She’s got obviously the talent to handle the ball as well and be able to create her own shot.

“But her leadership abilities are something that separate her from kids her age,” Mennig said.

Scott, who averaged 19.1 points last season and drained 67 three-pointers before winning the Class 1A three-point shooting competition at the state tournament in late February, will step into a much different team than the one she left at Schlarman. The Hilltoppers won a Class 1A sectional last season and finished 27-3.

With the Hilltoppers, Scott played alongside point guard Anaya Peoples, a rising sophomore who has double-digit scholarship offers. Freshman Capria Brown, another Division I prospect, will join Schlarman next season after leading the school’s eighth-grade team to third place in the Class 1A IESA basketball tournament.

Urbana went 8-18 last season and 2-8 in the Big 12 Conference. The Tigers have a few talented carryovers in the Class of 2018 in All-Area honorable mention honorees Lauryn Cross and Shaniya Howard, who finished fourth in the high jump at the 2A state meet this season.

Scott’s younger sister, Chian, will also join her at Urbana after playing for the Hilltoppers’ eighth-grade team last season and winning an IESA Class 1A championship in the 800 meters.

“From early assessments of what I’ve seen, she’s not going to be by herself out there,” Mennig said. “Will some of the teams key on her a little more? Maybe. But I’m confident from what I’ve seen already that we have kids who are ready to step in. … It isn’t like Arieal Scott has never seen a box-and-one on her.”

Mennig said he and Urbana athletic director Steve Waller reached out to the IHSA soon after he arrived at Urbana to communicate with it directly regarding rules and nuances of transfers. The decision to attend Urbana, he said, was completely on the Scott family’s accord.

Scott is already integrating herself with the group during open gyms. Thus far, the transition has gone smoothly.

“I think the energy of both sides (has helped create a smooth transition),” Mennig said. “I think everybody in getting to know her and her sister, as well as her not coming into a situation not trying to demand respect, I think is the trick for almost any kid just as when she walks in as a freshman into college. You kind of let your actions speak for you, and then eventually you’re able to integrate into the setting.

“Just as I said to all of the kids in the program, everybody’s starting from scratch, and it’ll be a fun journey for everybody involved.”

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