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Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Hornet cheer-worthy

KU game dream come true for Elliott

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If you get the chance, cheer for Scott Elliott tonight.

His colors might be black and gold. But his heart is all crimson and blue.

"It's pretty much the game," Elliott said, "I've been waiting for my whole life."

His first college basketball experience was at Allen Fieldhouse. He was only 9. Thanks to Roger Morningstar, Elliott was a waterboy for an opposing team during an exhibition game like this one between Emporia State and Kansas.

He watched with wide eyes as Raef LaFrentz put down dunks, as Paul Pierce floated through the lane, as the fans cheered so loud he said he couldn't hear himself think.

Scott Elliott said he fell in love that day - a love that never did waver.

And the dream of this Lansing boy became the dream that so many other Kansas youngsters share.

"I knew one day I wanted to play there," Elliott said.

Cheer for him. He was the one who attended all the Jayhawk basketball camps. His sister went to KU. So did his uncles.

"It's kind of my family's alma mater," he said.

Elliott moved to Leavenworth, attending Immaculata just as Wayne Simien was signing to play for the Jayhawks.

Reality soon hit. Though he averaged 22 points per game, was all-league three seasons and league MVP his senior year, he was not the type of player KU would recruit.

He weighed his options, and one of the criteria actually was if his new team would play Kansas in the exhibition schedule.

It didn't work out. He signed with Barton County to play basketball.

Cheer for him, because he never gave up on the dream. He contacted Danny Manning and went to Lawrence in the summers to play basketball with the KU players. He talked with assistant coach Joe Dooley about potentially walking on with KU after his two years at Barton were up.

He waited and waited for a spot to clear, but nothing did. He finally listened to what ESU had to offer. Three days later, he signed the paperwork, officially accepting a scholarship offer with the Division II school.

Dooley called him the next day. Nick Bahe had transferred to Creighton, and a potential walk-on position had opened up.

It was too late. He would keep his commitment. His decision had been made.

Cheer for him, because Scott Elliott doesn't curse fate. He says it all happens for a reason.

And, through it all, he still has tonight. Nothing can take that away.

"The KU players are going to know," Elliott said, "that I've been waiting for this game for a long, long time."

When he walks through that tunnel into Allen Fieldhouse for the first and final time tonight, Elliott says there will be 1,000 emotions wrapped into one.

He'll think about his Grandpa Buck, who watched every one of his high school games and is now seated before him, perhaps prouder than he's ever been.

There will be jitters, excitement, goosebumps, all along with a sense of accomplishment and also awe.

"Inside I'm going to be thinking like a fourth-grader, wanting to do this my whole life," Elliott said. "Hopefully, I'm going to go out there and play like a 22-year-old senior who knows how to play the game."

Elliott has waited a long time for this moment. For one day, he'll get to live the dream - the one so many Kansas kids have had.

Cheer for him. He's as much Jayhawk as anyone on the court.

Even if his uniform doesn't say so.

- Jesse Newell is the ESU beat writer for the Emporia Gazette and former Journal-World staffer. He participated in walk-on tryouts for the KU team a year ago.

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