For Ariel Scott, the best part about winning the Big Ten’s most prestigious individual award for regular season play might be her chance to share it with her teammates.
On Tuesday, Scott was crowned Big Ten Player of the Year for 2012, a season which saw her compile 87 blocks, plus team leading numbers in kills (399) and hitting percentage among players with 500-plus attacks (.303).
The junior right-side hitter was humble when talking about the award, shining more light on her teammates, specifically sophomore Micha Hancock, than herself.
“I have to give Micha some credit, too, because obviously our setter is really important,” Scott said. “We’ve been working together this year and having two years together is really nice and definitely helped us.”
The Nittany Lions nearly pulled off a clean sweep of Big Ten yearly awards; Russ Rose claimed Coach of the Year and Megan Courtney won Freshman of the Year, in addition to Deja McClendon, Scott, Hancock and Katie Slay all being recognized as first team All-Big Ten honorees.
The balanced attack of the aforementioned players, among others, has fueled the Lions’ offense through this season that has earned them the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA championship tournament.
However, Scott has often shined and taken the reins of the offense this season, including an early-season win against No. 2 Stanford, when she tallied a team-leading 26 kills.
The gracious Hancock, who piled up a court-leading 53 assists in the Stanford match, was all smiles when talking about Scott’s award.
“The girl plays her butt off,” Hancock said of Scott. “She’s really deserving … she plays hard all the time. She’s always talking, like ‘Hey, get it higher, get it lower,’ even when I don’t want to hear it. She’s just an incredible athlete.”
Rose echoed Hancock’s view on Scott, as the 34th-year coach has used the word “tough” to describe the 6-foot-4 right-side throughout the season.
“I think she had an exceptional year, both as an offensive player and being a good teammate,” Rose said. “Because I’m sure she’d like to be on the floor all the time playing all the way around.”
Rose took a moment to step back and reflect briefly on Scott’s, and the whole team’s, time at Penn State.
“When we recruit kids, we talk about they’re going to get better and I think she’s gotten a lot better,” Rose said. “And I think she is becoming more aware at times of how valuable she could be in a game.”
The start of the postseason on Friday will mark Rose’s third go-around with Scott on his roster.
Like McClendon, Scott has engineered her list of career honors to resemble a small encyclopedia; one of the few things separating the two is that elusive championship MVP.
McClendon won the NCAA tournament MVP in 2010, when they were both freshmen.
Scott outright said “No” as to whether she has given thought to where her place in Penn State history lay.
Rose also danced around the topic, saying it’s an outsider’s job to compare players in such a light.
He did, however, give one piece of high praise to Scott.
“I’m sure though, if she elects to go professional, that she could make a good bit of money,” Rose said.
“I’m sure of that.”