Loyola men's basketball coach Tavaras Hardy remembers the first time he met forward KaVaughn Scott.
It was part of the "get to know you" phase for Hardy, who was hired by Loyola in March 2018. Hardy had been around as an assistant coach at the Division I level, making stops at Northwestern, Georgetown and Georgia Tech, so it's a process he was accustomed to throughout the years.
And now, Hardy was chatting with Scott. Scott didn't talk a lot, partly because he was a humble kid and partly because he hadn't had his breakout moment yet. But Hardy didn't just see a player with potential on the court; here was someone who could be a leader for his new team, someone who could take his talents beyond the hardwood.
"KaVaughn had a really good reputation," Hardy said of meeting Scott. "When he opened the door to those things, I really stressed to him that it would be a good idea that he was more vocal about being a true student-athlete."
Scott, a native of Irvine, Calif., has embraced that advice in the past year and has become one of the leaders for the Greyhounds. And when he's not in Reitz Arena scoring points and grabbing rebounds, he's serving as the co-president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and a member of the Green and Grey Society on campus.
"The past couple of years, we haven't been as successful as we wanted to, and I think that's because of a lack of leadership," Scott said. "So I really wanted to step up. This is my last go at it, so I don't want to have any regrets in this."
Scott, a senior, is now one of "the guys" for the Greyhounds, but that wasn't always the case. Prior to Hardy's arrival, he made just 11 starts in two years. He had his share of big moments, like leading the team with nine rebounds and four blocks against Boston University as a sophomore, but he was more of a rotational piece his first two years on campus.
Then Hardy came to Loyola, and things quickly began to change for Scott. Last year, Scott (6-foot-7, 220 pounds) started in 25 games and averaged 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds -- both career highs. He earned the first double-double of his college career and helped his team to an overtime win against Holy Cross last January.
But it wasn't until Loyola lost to Boston University in the Patriot League quarterfinals in March that Scott realized he was going to have to step up as a senior.
"After the game, it just kind of hit me that I'm about to go into my last year," Scott said. "So I went into the spring and summer and attacked it differently."
Hardy said Scott is not a necessarily a vocal leader, and Scott himself backed that up. He said he's someone who likes to lead with his actions rather than his words.
"I have a strong voice, though, so when I am vocal, it's heard," Scott said. "But I would definitely say I lead by example, working as hard as I can and letting people see that and try to drive to do the same."
But that isn't necessarily true once Scott steps off the court. Hardy had heard that Scott was interested in being a part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, so he approached him with the idea and said joining might be good for him.
The committee is dedicated to providing an open forum of communication between the athletic department and the athletes themselves. Members also support the university with community service and outreach.
"Once he got involved, ... it was very good to hear his insights and he was very vocal about sharing his thoughts," Hardy said.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Loyola Athletic Communications
Scott officially joined shortly after his conversation with Hardy, and this year he was elected as the co-president of the committee.
"I saw the difference that the advisory committee could make on campus," Scott said. "So that's when it became a really big thing for me and I started pushing for larger roles."
It didn't stop there, though. Scott is also a member of the Green and Grey Society, which is exclusively for a small group of students who are outstanding examples of the academic, personal and leadership standards that Loyola upholds.
Scott was nominated for the honor, and once he found out that the group serves as a liaison to the president of the university, it spoke volumes to him.
"That was pretty big to me," Scott said. "I was really proud of that moment."
Scott's outlook on the college experience has changed during the past year-plus, and he said it all circles back to Hardy entering his life.
"He saw something in me that I might not have necessarily seen," Scott said. "He's definitely pushing me to reach my max potential and just to be confident in myself in everything I do and attack opportunities and get out of my comfort zone."
And the team has noticed his change, too. Hardy said the team has been eager to follow him.
"They're appreciative of his attitude and the way he represents the team," Hardy said. "I've stressed to the players that we should all be honored that KaVaughn is representing all of us in that regard. So I think they're looking at it as something they aspire to do because of his example."
Scott used to just be a kid from California who hung out with his teammates and didn't do much else. But Scott wants to be remembered, not just for his role on the court, but for the things he does off of it as well.
"Taking on these roles, it's been liberating," Scott said. "Meeting all these people, it's given me awareness of what's going on around campus. Helping out ultimately helps our team because the more school spirit we have, the more spirit is going to be in that gym when we play."
Photo Credit: Greg Carroccio
Issue 259: November 2019
Originally published Nov. 15, 2019