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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jack Scott knows plenty about Princeton men’s basketball.
Long before Scott ever thought of donning the orange and black, his father, Joe, was a player and coach on Old Nassau.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” Scott said on Thursday as the Tigers prepared for their Sweet 16 contest against Creighton at the KFC Yum! Center. “Just being part of this team, for me, is the biggest part. It’s the closest group of guys I’ve ever been around, been on a team with. Being able to go to an event like this and be a part of this tournament with that group of guys is what has been really special to me.”
Scott also spent his last three years of high school playing for coach Jonathan Stone at the Hun School. Stone was on hand at Wednesday’s send off to wish Scott well.
“The experience is once in a lifetime to be able to play in the Sweet 16,” Scott said. “What we’ve been able to do, just really enjoy this moment. It’s been incredible and (my dad) has just been saying stay in the moment with everything you do.”
Scott has appeared in 17 games as a freshman this season, and he plans on taking the lessons learned from this run to make himself a better player.
“Just being able to watch our upperclassmen, the way they compete, their toughness, their ability to lock in, just do all the little things that make you win,” Scott said. “Those are all the little things that I’ve really started to pick up on just watching them. As my career progresses, so many of the things they’ve shown me how to do I’m going to take and incorporate into my game.”
Deven Austin was having a fabulous freshman season until a bad break ended his season in mid-February.
Austin tore his ACL during practice before the home game against Brown on Feb. 17.
“It’s a lot of emotions,” Austin said. “The first couple days I couldn’t walk, so having to deal with that, and seeing my teammates and all that was definitely hard. These guys are very encouraging and they’ve always had my back, so leaning on them is definitely uplifting for me.”
It didn’t take Austin long to start winning over fans with his high-flying style and big smile. He finished his rookie campaign averaging 5.4 points in 15.3 minutes per game off the bench.
So while he hasn’t been on the floor during this run, he’s been one of the biggest cheerleaders from the bench.
“I’m just trying to be another encouraging voice on the bench,” Austin said.
One of the first things Mitch Henderson did when he got into town was head over to the Louisville Slugger Museum and get an engraved bat.
Not is Henderson a big baseball fan — the Yankees drafted him out of high school — he also has deep Midwest roots.
“I used to grow up going to Kentucky games, Louisville games,” Henderson said. “So this is familiar for me, not for our guys, but I was so psyched to get a Louisville Slugger bat today with my name on it. My wife is like, ‘calm down.’ But I love that stuff.”
Henderson grew up in Vincennes, Indiana before moving to Lexington, Kentucky after his father, an electrical contractor, got transferred for work.
“Both are great high school basketball areas,” Henderson said, relaying the story of how he went to Rick Pitino’s basketball camp after moving to Lexington. “He would go one-on-one with all the campers and talk so much trash. He was really good, probably in his late 30s at the time, and if you beat him you got a shirt that said ‘I beat Rick Pitino in 1-on-1’ and I got one of those shirts.”
The only other time Creighton was among the final eight teams was in the inaugural NCAA Tournament in 1941.
There were only eight teams in that field, so a win would mark a first trip to the Elite Eight.
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