Skip to main content

Is Arkansas commit Taliah Scott northeast Florida's best high school girls basketball player ever?

St. John's Country Day's star class of 2023 point guard can score 50 while outplaying everyone on defense

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Even before her senior season at St. John's Country Day School in Winter Park, Taliah Scott has a new title.

She is, by all accounts, the best girls high school basketball player ever to come out of Northeast Florida.

That's a lofty accomplishment because the greater Jacksonville area has produced some quality players through the years. There was Ribault High's Kayla Brewer (Class of 2011), who played for South Carolina and Texas on the collegiate level. In that same class was Potter House High's Loliya Briggs, who went on to play for Pitt.

Is Taliah Scott of St. John's Country Day the best girls basketball player ever in Northeast Florida? Yes, according to many scouts, long time observers and rival coaches.

Is Taliah Scott of St. John's Country Day the best girls basketball player ever in Northeast Florida? Yes, according to many scouts, long time observers and rival coaches.

At the time, either one of them could have been called the best player ever out of Northeast Florida. But it would not have lasted long. A new gold standard was set by Ribault's Rennia Davis, who graduated high school in 2017. She was a McDonald's All-American and a Jordan Brand Classic All-American.

In four college seasons at Tennessee, Davis averaged 15.4 points and eight rebounds while starting 116 games out of a possible 118. Davis was drafted by the Minnesota Lynx and is now with the Indiana Fever.

Then, along came a 5-foot-9 point guard, with a great jump shot, a ridiculous scoring average and an all-around game. No one wants to slight Brewer, Briggs and Davis. They are just being honest because they believe the torch already has been passed. In Scott, they see a player who could have a major impact for Arkansas and go on to an outstanding career in the WNBA.

So, is Scott, who is ranked No. 11 in HoopseenW/All-Star Girls Report's rankings for the Class of 2023, really the best player ever to come out of North Florida?

"So I've been told,'' Country Day's coach Yolanda Bronston said. "But I haven't been here my whole life and there might have been great players in the past that I don't know about. But, what I can tell you is that I've coached on the high school and college (as an assistant at Norfolk State) levels and Taliah is the best player I've ever coached.'

Bronston said her assistant coach, Brian Ulmer, has lived in Northeast Florida his whole life and he doesn't hesitate to call Scott the best ever from the region. And Ulmer has company.

Kenny Kallina, director of Florida Girls Basketball, said Scott is in a league of her own.

That's true if you start with Scott's scoring average. Last season, she averaged 31.5 points per game and had games where she scored 56 and 50 points. But the mere mention of scoring average or being called a scorer makes Scott a little defensive.

"Especially around here, people that have not really seen me play think I'm just a scorer,'' Scott said. "They think that all I ever do is shoot the ball every time I touch it. I don't think that's true at all. I work hard on my passing, rebounding and playing defense. I think I'm an all-around player.''

If Scott sounds like a person with overflowing confidence, that's mainly because she is.

"There is a big difference between being cocky and being confident,'' Bronston said. "I think Taliah is very confident and I would rather have that than someone who has no confidence. She gives us a leader and I'm going to ask her to be even more of a leader than she's ever been this season.''

Those who think Scott is nothing more than a scorer need to know some things about her junior season. Scott decided to transfer from Oakleaf High School after leading her team to the semifinals of the Class 7A state playoffs. Playing for a Class 2A program last year, Scott averaged 6.2 rebounds a game, which is an outstanding number for a point guard.

"She also led us in assists, charging fouls taken and she plays great defense,'' Bronston said "She's a complete player.''

So, what does Scott hope she can do in her last season before heading off to college? Well, she has a list of short-term and long-term goals. The first goal is to become physically stronger and she's working on that right now.

"I can still improve on everything,'' Scott said. "I want to finish strong and get into (Country Day's) Hall of Fame. Then, I was to go into Arkansas' Hall of Fame and, eventually, I want to go into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.''

Those may sound like pipe dreams, but those that know the game well, think that Scott is capable of achieving all of that.

"Arkansas has a four-year starter because she's a raise-the-program type of point guard,'' ASGR Director of Scouting Nate Altonhofen said. "Although she has great fundamentals, she also can put up 25 points or more on a given night. She gives the Razorbacks a leader on both ends of the court.''

That leadership role would be a nice return gift to an Arkansas program that covered Scott like a blanket during the recruiting process.

Scott also considered offers from Florida, Florida State, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, Rutgers, Notre Dame and Virginia before deciding on Arkansas. The Razorbacks are coming off their best season since coach Mike Neighbors arrived in 2017. They upset top-ranked UConn in the regular season. They were 19-9 overall (9-6 in SEC play) and were a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Much has been made about how Scott chose Arkansas after her visit to the campus and her presence at a football game where Arkansas upset Texas.

"Well, I had fun at the football game and it was nice to see the school spirit by the students," Scott said. "But that's only a small part of why I made this decision. All of the other schools were great. But I just felt something special about Arkansas."

Scott said Neighbors or members of his staff called frequently. At least one member of the staff attended her games on the summer circuit in 2021. Although Scott was out with a broken wrist for half of the 2022 summer season, Arkansas staff members showed up regularly when Scott returned.

"They just came after me so hard." Scott said. "I really enjoyed meeting the players. Coach Neighbors and his staff are great, I want to go to a place with a coach that can help get me ready for the WNBA and I think Coach Neighbors can do that."