Basketball: Shayla Scott starts career as coach

By Kelly Flanigan

Shayla Scott, a former Pitt basketball player, has found a new basketball home.

La Salle… Shayla Scott, a former Pitt basketball player, has found a new basketball home.

La Salle University in Philadelphia has hired her as an assistant basketball coach. She will work primarily with the Explorers’ post players.

“In terms of what I can bring to La Salle from Pitt in regards to basketball situations, I am very proud to say I played in the Big East Conference,” Scott said. “In this conference we competed against some of the best teams in the country, day in and day out.”

Scott will get the opportunity to work with a talented group of four freshmen forwards, two of them – Indigo Dickens and Ruvanna Campbell – were nominated for the McDonalds All-American team.

La Salle head coach Jeff Williams expressed his excitement at adding Scott to his coaching staff. The coach should know what he’s getting, considering the fact he coached Scott at Pitt for three years. Williams left Pitt after a seven-year tenure as associate head coach last July. The coach moved to La Salle where he became head coach.

“I’m excited to bring Shayla into our family, she’s the perfect fit,” Williams said.  “She helped get the program to two Sweet 16 appearances. She has a phenomenal intellect of the game and I’m excited about her joining.”

Scott is equally excited by the opportunity to work with Williams.

“It is going to be a lot of fun working with Coach Williams,” she said. “He helped me to get my playing career started at Pitt and I am extremely appreciative of him for giving me the opportunity to get my college coaching career started.”

A graduate of the local Gateway High School, Scott was a standout at Pitt, not just for her abilities on the court, but for her on-campus involvement as well.

“Most importantly, Shayla is a student-athlete and the type of person I want mentoring our kids,” Williams said. “She has great character and she knows what it’s like to be a student-athlete and compete at a high level both on the court and in the classroom.”

Scott said she is most looking forward to being on the sidelines and developing a new perspective of the game. Her biggest fear? Navigating the city of Philadelphia.

“I have been in Pittsburgh all my life, so I don’t have to worry about directions,” Scott said with a laugh. “So now I pray that my GPS never lets me down, and that no one finds out I am Steeler fan for life.”

A member of the Blue and Gold Society and secretary of Pitt’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Scott completed both her bachelor’s degree in media and professional communications and her master’s degree in health and fitness in the four years she spent at Pitt. She has always found support from her former coach at Pitt, Agnus Berenato.

“Off the court [involvement] is something we really stress here at the University of Pittsburgh, and Shayla was a fabulous student,” Berenato said. “She related very well to everybody, whether it was a fan, the chancellor, or the No. 1 Booster Donator. And I think you have to be adaptable to the people you are surrounded by.”

Having played in 123 career contests and starting in 101, Scott will bring valuable first-hand experience and a wealth of knowledge to the La Salle team. She helped guide Pitt to two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances as well as a Women’s National Invitation Tournament appearance.

In time, she would like to pursue a career in sports media, but for now Scott wants to “give back to a sport that has given her so much.”

“Being around basketball has become a part of who I am, and something that I have developed a passion for,” Scott said.

“The best attribute Shayla has for coaching is that she’s been in the trenches,” Berenato added. “She was a starter every year, and when you’re a team player, you experience the highs and lows as a student athlete. With her youthfulness, she’ll be able to relate to her girls.”

Berenato knew Scott’s future profession as soon as she began coaching her.“I always thought she would be a coach,” Berenato said. “Never once have I felt she would do anything other than be a coach on the college level. Of the four seniors that graduated, I never had any doubt in my mind that Shayla Scott would coach.

Scott’s parents were both collegiate basketball stars. Her mother, Jennifer Bruce Scott, is the second all-time leading scorer in Pitt women’s basketball history, and her father, Rod Scott, played basketball at Duquesne.

“You develop a passion for coaching, but Shayla was born with it,” Berenato said. “She has coaching in her blood.”