Scotty Pippen Jr leads Vandy with tips from dad, Stackhouse
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Scotty Pippen Jr. receives personal review after every game from people who know him and basketball very well.
Yes, Vanderbilt trainer Jerry Stackhouse and his assistants describe the performance of the second guard.
Then there are the post-game calls from Papa, six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen, who was voted one of the 50 greatest players in the league.
"Coach Stack tells me what the team needs to make sure everyone gets the ball," said Pippen Jr. "But my dad, he tells me little things like, 'When you run up and down the pitch, see you don't look like you're in shape. ' ... So I get criticism on both ends. I'm used to it now. "
All advice works.
Pippen Jr. ranks second in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 20.6 points and 5.3 assists per game. He's one of only four players in the country averaging over 20 points and five assists per game, and Minnesota's Marcus Carr is the only other player to do so in a Power Five league.
Not bad for a security guard whose recruiting list was mid-majors near his Los Angeles home. Washington State was the only Power Five school interested until Vanderbilt started looking for a point guard.
Pippen Jr. liked the academics at the SEC's only private university so much that even the dismissal of coach Bryce Drew and assistant Jake Diebler didn't change his mind. Stackhouse's hiring and his father's opinion of the 18-year-old NBA veteran also helped.
"My dad and Trainer Stack were cool so he just thought it would be a good fit," said Pippen Jr. "He thought Trainer Stack would do me right. And just because of the phone calls with Coach, he only told me if I wanted to get better this was the place. He will be on top of me and push me and I just trusted him. "
Stackhouse threw in the freshman guard on a program that hadn't won a single SEC game last season.
Pippen Jr. started 31 games averaging 12 points and 3.6 assists playing 29.8 minutes per game. He finished Vanderbilt's 11-21 season in the last six games in double digits and was named to the SEC's all-freshman team.
"He gave me time to make mistakes," said Pippen Jr .. "He gave me time to learn and grow on the pitch. When I came back this year, I had a lot more confidence and a lot more experience than my first Year. I feel like it all played a role. "
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said Pippen's improvement has been impressive.
"He is offensively responsible for about half of their production points," said Barnes. “And I love his demeanor, which he plays with. And he's a guy who went in last year and had to study on the job. He had to stay out there, they needed him in the square. "
Pippen Jr. and Vanderbilt played the last game of the SEC tournament last March before the league closed it. Scottie Pippen was a very present dad last season, having seen as many games as possible in person, including the last game behind the team bench.
After the pandemic, Pippen Jr. went home, where he rested and worked with his father. Pippen had his son lift weights to build his legs and upper body strength. They also worked on everything basketball-related from his shot to ball handling to watching movies.
Father, who won his NBA title with the Chicago Bulls, had a willing student.
"I'm mature enough to know that my dad had some success," said Pippen Jr. "I know he wants the best for me. I know he knows a lot about the game. He was there, he did what I want to do ... so you know I trust him. "
Now he's at the top of every scouting report, and the focus of the best defender on any team is to make sure Pippen Jr. doesn't beat them.
He's now 3 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier - 6-foot-3,170_ than his last year of high school. The extra muscle helps when he repeatedly drives to the basket to fetch buckets, stumble for a free throw or pass it on to teammates via doubles. He is the only Commodore who has not missed a game this season and is constantly talking to his teammates during breaks.
"He's doing everything right offensively," said Stackhouse. "He takes what the defense gives him."
The challenge was to get Vanderbilt (4-7, 0-5) to reach the level of Pippen Jr., which wasn't easy in a season of stops and starts due to COVID-19 issues and contact tracing. Two of the Commodores' last four games have been postponed, but they will visit Florida on Wednesday night.
His father has seen a few games in person with Vanderbilt so the family can participate for both players and staff.
So Pippen Jr. drives on fearlessly, just like he did as a kid, learning the angles that will help him land better on the sidelines with every ride.
"Game after game," said Pippen Jr., "I'm just studying this year."
Follow Teresa M. Walker at https://twitter.com/TeresaMWalker
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
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