Scott Burrell

Year: 1989 - 1993
Position: Forward
Hometown: Hamden, CT

Scott Burrell was a Forward for the UConn Huskies from 1989 – 1993. He’s a member of the UConn Basketball All Century Team, and is the first player in National Collegiate Athletic Association history to score more than 1,500 points, with at least 750 rebounds, 290 assists, and 300 steals. He’s the first athlete in collegiate history to be selected in the first round in two separate professional team sports—basketball and baseball—and is the first UConn player to win a National Basketball Association Championship. These are just some of the accomplishments that would appear on Scott’s resume. I had the pleasure of talking to Scott in September 2004 from the golf course, another sport he excels at, about his career, as he reflected on his college, and post-collegiate sports

Scott was pretty athletic growing up. He loved playing all three major sports, football, baseball, and basketball. When he was in high school he gave up playing football because the sport was a bit dangerous, and he didn’t want to get hurt. He went to Hamden High School in Connecticut, and while there, never won a championship in any sport. Scott was recruited by colleges for both basketball and baseball, and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners baseball team as a pitcher in his senior year of high school. They wanted him to play baseball only, and not go to college. Scott opted to go to college. He was going to go to Miami University to play baseball, and forget about basketball but Coach D. (Howie Dickenman, former asst coach at UConn) talked to Scott, and his family about it. They decided it would be a better option for Scott to go to UConn to play basketball. After his first year at UConn, he was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team, and for the next three summers he played for the Blue Jays.

Scott didn’t think it was a big transition going from high school to college. “I just played hard, I wasn’t really the most skilled person, but I always played hard at whatever I was doing. I dedicated myself, trying to get better.” His most memorable accomplishment while at UConn was being on the first team to win a Big East Championship. “The year before, UConn was picked to come in last in the Big East, then my freshman year we won it, so I think that’s the biggest thrill.”

After his senior year, Scott chose to make his career in basketball, and hasn’t played baseball in 12 years. He was drafted in the first round of the NBA, the 20th pick, and played with the Charlotte Hornets for five years. There was quite a difference between playing at the college level to playing in the NBA. “The guys are much better. There’s no comparison of talent.” In the NBA Scott played against guys like Dominque Wilkens, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. “It was incredible.”

After the Hornets, Scott played for a year with the Chicago Bulls, and the Bulls won the NBA Championship that year. “That was the biggest thrill of my life, and the most stressful situation I’ve ever been in. It’s so much pressure that it’s incredible. Every play, every pass, every shot could win or lose the ball game when you’re in the finals.” Next Scott played with the New Jersey Nets for two years, and then he sat out for one year due to knee surgery. He then left the NBA, and went to China for two years, and most recently, last year he played in the Philippines. When I spoke to Scott he was leaving the following day for China to play in an All Star game.

Scott certainly had a lot of glory, but pain comes with glory. He’s had 12 surgeries over the years between his knees, achilles, shoulder, and hand. “They say ‘no pain, no gain,’ and that’s a true statement.”

Scott said the UConn campus has changed a lot since he was at school. It’s beautiful which makes it easier to recruit, and he likes the fact that the kids UConn recruits are all around good kids, not trouble makers. He thinks that Coach Calhoun has done a great job. He said there aren’t too many other coaches that have won two NCAA Championships.

When time permits, Scott enjoys going to UConn, and working out with the team so he had a good feeling they were going to win the National Championship this year. He thinks they are going to be pretty good this coming year, too. He said that Denham Brown is going to be a great player, Rashad Anderson will have another great year, Josh Boone will play well, and continue to get better, and he’s heard the new recruit Rudy Gay is incredible. They are losing Emeka, who blocked five shots a game, which could hurt them, but they’ll make up the points they won’t be getting from Ben. They will be Final Four contenders again.

Scott really enjoyed his four years at UConn. He met a lot of friends, and his teammates are his best friends. He loves being able to spend time with the guys. For his future, when he gets back from China, he’s going to look into some basketball camps, and hopefully be playing basketball again soon. He’s in the process of moving back to CT, currently a bachelor with no children. Long term, he would love to coach. “I’ve learned a lot from a lot of great coaches, and I would love to share that with some people.”