NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – You’ll have to excuse Oakland Soldiers (Calif.) guard Scotty Pippen Jr. if he can’t sympathize with the droves of players who feel pressure to perform for the hundreds of coaches lining the sidelines at the Nike Peach Jam this week.
Try playing in the shadow of a living legend your whole life as the son of six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.
“There’s way more pressure when you’re in my position,” Scotty Jr. said. “People expect more from me.”
Fair or not, spectators, opposing players and even teammates wanted to see glimpses of the long-armed legend who played the “Robin” role to Michael Jordan during the Chicago Bulls’ legendary run of titles in the 1990s.
That’s why a five-star recruit who gets knots in his stomach to crack the top 10 of the rankings or a four-star recruit constantly wiping off perspiration on his palms while peering across the gym at Villanova coach Jay Wright seems remedial to Scotty Jr.
“That stuff has never really been big to me,” said Scotty Jr. “College coaches want to see if you’re good enough to offer you a scholarship, but people look at me and want to see if I’m as good as my dad was. It’s crazy.”
Plenty of colleges think Scotty Jr. — who helped Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) High School to the California Open Division championship — is well on his way to being a star in his own right after leading the Oakland Soldiers in scoring (17.4 points per game) during the Nike EYBL regular season.
The Soldiers knocked off the Bluff City Legends (Tenn.) 70-62 on Thursday.
Scotty Jr. said he’s heard the most from Stanford, Princeton, Washington State, U.C. Davis, Brown and UCSB, among others.
“I’m wide open with my recruitment,” Scotty Jr. said. “I know a lot of schools are waiting to make moves after July too. I just try and stay focused on playing my game because people are gonna think what they want anyway.”
That said, to say that Scotty Jr. embraces the lofty expectations would be an extreme understatement.
“I actually love it,” he said. “I’ve always had to prove myself because of my dad so I don’t really know any other way. I used to try to avoid it, but once I embraced it I started loving it. I want people to expect too much because their expectations can’t be anywhere close to what I expect of myself.”
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