Behind the scenes: How Cam Scott went from Texas lock to USC Gamecock

Like most people, Alisha Coles isn’t a big fan of packing.

Coles remembers moving from New Jersey to the Summerville area of South Carolina and then to Lexington.

Until recently, it looked like another move was on the agenda for her and her family. Coles’ son, Lexington High School star Cam Scott, signed in November to play basketball at Texas.

The plan was for Coles, her husband, Armet, and their other son to move roughly 1,100 miles west to Austin so they could watch Scott play college basketball.

But plans changed drastically after Texas granted Scott a release from his National Letter of Intent (NLI) this week. On Wednesday, Scott announced he was staying home to play for Lamont Paris and the South Carolina men’s basketball team.

Scott is a four-star recruit who ranks No. 34 nationally in the 247Sports Composite and is the No. 1 player in the state of South Carolina.

“When we moved from Summerville, we hated packing,” Coles told The State on Wednesday. “But we were going to do it because we don’t miss games. Two months ago, it wasn’t the path we thought we would be on. But we believe God doesn’t make any mistakes.”

Inside Cam Scott’s USC decision

Scott spoke with reporters about his decision Wednesday and the factors leading up to his switch. There were “some things going on inner circle-wise, and it was important for me to stay local,” he said.

The family’s process from deciding to not go to Texas to ending up at South Carolina instead took about two weeks start to finish, per Scott’s parents. That puts April 1 or thereabouts as the starting point for the change of plans.

“It wasn’t really my first decision, because I am a big man of my word,” Scott said. “It is just how I was raised, just sticking to the word. Some things changed and some things happened, like I said, inner circle-wise. We just really had to sit down and make a big family decision.”

A big factor in the decision was that Scott’s great-grandmother Eleanor, who lives in Columbia, wasn’t able to make the move to Texas with the rest of the family. Cam and Eleanor have had a close relationship, long before he became Lexington High’s all-time leading scorer and led them to a state championship for the first time in 24 years in March.

“She comes to as many things as possible and would like to see the next stage of his career,” Alisha said.

While family was a big factor in the switch, Scott’s father, Armet Coles said the change didn’t have anything to do with Texas bringing in players through the transfer portal to compete with Scott. The Longhorns have added three players from the portal this offseason, including Arkansas transfer guard Tramon Mack.

“We knew about the transfer portal for a long time and whatever school we go to we would have to deal with it,” Armet Coles said. “That wasn’t it. South Carolina is still trying to bring players in. Cam is going to have to put in the work. We aren’t expecting anything handed to us.”

It was Scott’s camp that initiated the recent rekindling of contact with South Carolina.

Once it was decided that Scott wasn’t going to Texas, Armet Coles said his son’s NIL agent reached out to USC about the possibility of joining the Gamecocks. Talks between the two sides took off from there.

Scott’s parents also praised Texas coach Rodney Terry for handling things “with professionalism” when the Lexington senior called Terry to inform him he no longer wanted to be a Longhorn.

It was thought that USC was done with high school players in this year’s class. The Gamecocks signed high school players Trent Noah from Kentucky and Okku Federiko of Finland and were going to fill their remaining scholarship spots with transfer portal players.

But homegrown talents such as Scott don’t come along quite often, especially this late in the recruiting process.

The Gamecocks are in a better place as a program, too, than they were a year ago or even a few months ago when Scott signed with the Longhorns. USC is coming off a 26-8 season and its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2017. Alisha and Armet attended USC’s home game against Tennessee on March 6. The Vols defeated the Gamecocks, 66-59, but the game at Colonial Life Arena was sold out with the SEC regular season title on the line.

“When we went to the Tennessee game, the gym was different,” Armet said. “When GG (Jackson) was there, you could get there late and find a parking spot. This past season, it wasn’t like that. It was a different environment. Winning brings people out.”

Joining the Gamecocks

Armet Coles said a dozen schools reached out Saturday when word started to spread that Cam Scott wasn’t going to Texas. It was the same night as Lexington High’s prom, which was held at USC’s Williams-Brice Stadium and saw Scott voted as prom king.

But even though there was a lot of interest, it was important for Scott to stay close to home. Because of that, Armet said, USC, Clemson and Georgia were really the only logical choices. Of those three, the Gamecocks were the only ones that made it to Scott’s original final six schools, finishing a close second to Texas.

There were a lot of factors that USC had going for it other than it being local. Armet raved about the great rapport his son has with assistant coach Eddie Shannon and head coach Lamont Paris, who just wrapped up his second season at USC’s coach and got a hefty raise for his efforts.

Since Paris arrived at South Carolina in spring 2022 from Chattanooga, the Gamecocks have had a history of convincing top in-state recruits to stay home and play for the Gamecocks. The first was five-star recruit GG Jackson of Ridge View, who committed to North Carolina soon after Paris’ hiring but later decommitted and ended up reclassifying to the Class of 2022 to play for USC.

Armet said he reached out to Jackson’s father, Gregory Jackson, during Scott’s abbreviated second recruitment to pick his brain on the state of South Carolina’s program.

Scott also was familiar with other in-state players on the team, including Westwood’s Arden Conyers and Collin Murray-Boyles, who played at A.C. Flora before spending his senior season at Wasatch Academy in Utah. Murray-Boyles (a rising sophomore) and Scott both worked with the same trainer, too: Khadijah Sessions, who is now an assistant coach on the South Carolina women’s basketball staff.

“Why not?” Armet Coles said. “How many signs do we have to have?”

Now, with Scott’s decision made, the family doesn’t have to load up a moving truck to watch him play. And he’ll have plenty of friends and family to see him at each home game.

“I’m relieved and happy he is confident in his decision,” Alisha Coles said. “This is where he wants to be.”