BY JACOB FIERMAN
You can’t coach height, but you can coach talent. This statement holds true for Senior Scott Palmer, who may not be the tallest man on the basketball court, but makes up for it with his skill. With an incredible vertical leap, great scoring ability, and amazing athleticism overall, Palmer is a key asset to the Cooper City High School Varsity Basketball Team this year.
Like most great athletes, basketball started for Palmer at the age of 5. Playing basketball in the JCC and Cooper City Optimist leagues, Palmer was with others in his height range, but even then he was able to utilize his abilities better than others. Focusing on his game, he worked at becoming a great player.
“Since I first started basketball, I became really dedicated and knew it was the sport for me,” Palmer said. “Playing in recreational leagues really got me to love the sport and the competition.”
As the years went on, Palmer worked at getting better every day. Whether it was going to team practices or shooting around outside his house, Palmer never stopped working to better himself. As he continued to play for recreational leagues he eventually made the transition to travel teams.
“I joined a travel team called Xtreme Hoops in 9th grade,” Palmer said. “I played on the team up until 11th grade and it really helped me improve because of the higher level of competition.”
It therefore came as no surprise for Palmer when he found out that he made the junior varsity basketball team his freshman year of high school. Palmer played well for the junior varsity team and he moved up to varsity in 10th grade. He even obtained a starting role towards the end of his sophomore season.
“Scott has a confidence about him that I don’t think he gets credit for,” Varsity Basketball Coach Rich Belton said. “He ‘brings his hard hat’ to work every day, meaning he tries to compete and get better every day. When your best player is your hardest worker, your job as a coach becomes a lot easier.”
Palmer’s talent level came as a shock to many due to his height. When most people think of basketball players they think of very tall and muscular athletes. Palmer compensates for his height with excellent court vision, great quickness, and he can drive to the basket with ease. In fact, he evens sees his height as an advantage when he gets on the court.
“Being the shortest player on the court makes it is challenging for me, but I like to analyze the court and see what others can’t,” Palmer said. “Being a student of the game makes it easy to perform despite being at a physical disadvantage. Basketball is 90% a mental game.”
It’s evident that the 5’6 point guard and shooting guard clearly learned how to utilize his capabilities over the years. With an unfathomable 38-inch vertical leap, it surprises many observers when Palmer is seen making plays around the rim. Whether it’s getting a rebound over a taller man or blocking a big man’s shot, Palmer definitely makes up for his height deficit.
“Even though I’m not close to 6 feet tall, I can make up for the inches with my jumping abilities,” Palmer said. “Being athletic is what makes me able to compete with players that are much taller than me.”
Palmer is clearly a viable threat when he steps on the court. With a remarkable average of 21 points per game, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists, nobody would ever imagine that a point guard of his size would be putting up those numbers. In fact, Palmer’s stat line even ranks as one of the best.
“I’m going out on a limb and saying he can potentially have his name mentioned for Broward county player of the year,” Belton said. “If he approached every game as he should thinking he’s the best player on the floor, the sky is the limit for him and our team this year.”
Over the years, Palmer has competed across the United States. Playing on a travel basketball team named Xtreme Hoops, he has played in various tournaments with teams from all over. Last summer, Palmer also attended a camp in Stanford where he was introduced to multiple college coaches and got to compete with players with a common love of basketball. Competing with such great athletes, it’s no surprise that Palmer was molded into such an incredible player.
“I’ve been trying to go to as many recruiting camps as possible,” Palmer said. “It’s incredible to see how great the talent is around the country and it definitely makes me better as a player.”
For most high school athletes, college sports are the ultimate goal. Palmer definitely sees college basketball as the next big step.
“College basketball is a goal of mine so I’m trying my hardest to achieve it.” Palmer said. “I’m constantly emailing and calling schools as well as coaches to get my name out there. It’s hard to get noticed at my height especially this late into my career but I’m doing the best I can.”
This season Palmer has been a driving force. Not only is he the leading scorer for the team but he also puts up big numbers in other crucial categories such as rebounds and assists. His excellent play has been a major part of the teams’ success. For the rest of the season, Palmer hopes to continue to score big numbers and motivate the team to try to win districts and hopefully go even further if possible. This year he even obtained the captains role, so leading the team to victory is the main objective on his mind.
“We’ve really come together as a team this year and we’ve been playing at our best.” Palmer said. “But we still have a long way to go to accomplish our goals”
No matter where basketball takes Palmer, it is evident that he has left his mark on the Cowboy’s basketball team over the past 4 years. This season he will continue to prove himself as a top player in Broward County and will not stop until he achieves his dream of becoming a top guard and potentially earning a spot on a college basketball team.