Quiet Quitesha Scott working to be vocal leader for Southern _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern point guard Quitesha Scott drives past Alabama State guard Tabitha Bradshaw last month. Scott, naturally quiet, has had to work to become a more vocal leader on the court than she was when she arrived at BRCC.

Southern women’s basketball coach Sandy Pugh insists that her point guards be vocal leaders.

That has been a challenge for Quitesha Scott, who arrived from Baton Rouge Community College as a woman of few words.

“When she first got here she didn’t really say much to anybody at all,” guard Kendra Coleman said. “She was really quiet, quiet. You really had to talk to her to make her say something. But she’s gotten out of that shell, and she’s more vocal now toward everybody.”

Still, Pugh would still like to hear a little more from Scott, who will help lead the Jaguars against Mississippi Valley State in a Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Toyota Center in Houston.

“I’m probably a little harder on her than I am on a lot of players because she is my point guard,” Pugh said. “My expectation of the point guards is lead. You’ve got to be a leader, you’ve got to be a vocal leader.

“That’s not a natural thing for her. She is a very quiet kid and very reserved, very even-tempered. I don’t know if I’ve ever even heard her yell at anybody or raise her voice. She’s always very quiet, very easy going, very unassuming.”

Though the vocal leadership remains a work in progress, Scott’s ability to lead by example is a completely different story.

She arrived as a walk-on last season, but started 22 games as the Jaguars won the SWAC regular-season title. That earned her a scholarship last spring, and she again has started 22 games for Southern, which finished 15-3 in the SWAC this season.

In addition, she is on the honor roll and is scheduled to graduate in December. She’s also a single parent, raising a 4-year-old daughter who was born two days before Scott’s graduation from Denham Springs High School.

“I applaud her for all that she’s done,” Coleman said. “I know that’s a hard task. I can only imagine what she goes through. I know it gets tough sometimes. She really has handled that very well.”

Scott lives with her father, who often watches her daughter, Taniya, while Scott’s in class. Scott’s grandmother in Port Allen will keep Taniya during the Jaguars’ road trips. Scott often times brings her daughter to practice, which is usually in the evening.

“It’s really tough,” Pugh said. “We practice late, so there are some nights we’re here until 9 or 9:30 and then she has to go home and do mommy duties. That says a lot about Bunny.”

Scott’s grandmother nicknamed her “Bunny” when she was little because she joked that the way Scott’s mom had combed her hair made her look like she had bunny ears. The nickname stuck, though Pugh routinely calls her “Bonnie.”

Pugh’s mispronunciation of her nickname seems to have gone the farthest in getting Scott to speak up.

“She corrects me all the time,” Pugh said with a laugh. “‘Coach, you can’t put a B-o-n, it’s a B-u-n.’ ‘OK, OK, Bunny.’”

One of the players called Taniya “our little mascot,” and Pugh will often mind Taniya while the players are practicing.

“It seems there’s always a positive vibe when she’s here,” Scott said.

Scott said she thinks more people around Southern know her daughter than know her.

“I believe everyone on campus knows Taniya,” Pugh said.

Forward Jasmine Jefferson joked that Taniya can be a little too friendly on occasion.

“It’s funny how she makes friends with the opposing team,” Jefferson said. “She talks to everybody. We’ll tell Bunny, ‘You need to calm that down a little bit.’

“Taniya is just so energized. She’s a good little girl.”

Scott said Taniya’s influence helps her juggle the many responsibilities she has.

“If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I’d be here right now,” Scott said. “Being a single parent made me want do more in life. I kept at it, and basketball has helped me get a better education.

“My daughter gives me so much confidence to do anything. It’s hard, but I just try to make the best of everything I’m doing.”

Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.