By: Liam O’Brien
When junior forward Tyler Scanlon arrived at Boston University, he was a mere freshman surrounded by a vast quantity of veteran leadership.
During Scanlon’s freshman season, the Terriers had five seniors and five juniors on the roster. The underclassmen took a backseat to players like Eric Fanning, Justin Alston and Cedric Hankerson, who accounted for the majority of the team’s offensive production.
Now that Scanlon has joined the upperclassman ranks, the situation is a lot different. He joins forward Max Mahoney and guard Adam Mikula as the only juniors on a squad that has just one senior, guard Kamali Chambers.
“The makeup of the team has flipped,” Scanlon said. “When I came in, there were only four underclassmen. Now, there are four upperclassmen. Got a lot of young guys so we are learning on the fly. Hopefully, we are able to pick things up quick.”
As a result of the youthfulness of this bunch, the Terriers are in search of a commanding presence in the locker room and on the floor. Scanlon has the respect of the team and is a natural fit for this role.
“He is a great leader,” Mahoney said. “He is willing to get on guys when he feels or when anyone else feels they are not doing their job or giving their full effort.”
Scanlon has set the tone for the other players on the team by getting in the gym and grinding on his skill set. His work ethic paints a picture for the underclassmen of what it takes to be a successful contributor at the Patriot League level. When we sat down for a conversation, he was on his way to the weight room to get a lift in 90 minutes before practice even began.
“[Scanlon] is a diligent worker,” head coach Joe Jones said. “Arguably our hardest worker in the offseason. The guy lives in the weight room. He is consistent with his basketball workouts. He has a will a desire to get better.”
Scanlon has proven himself from beyond the three-point line over his first two seasons. As a freshman, he shot 40.4 percent from range before making 39.2 percent of his threes a season ago.
With Hankerson gone, Scanlon is going to be relied on to create shots off the dribble and to facilitate for other players on the team. His main focus in the offseason was to improve his ability to handle the ball and break defenses down.
“Being able to get to certain spots on the floor using the dribble,” Scanlon said. “Being able to get to those spots and make plays for other guys out of it. I feel like I can pass the ball pretty well and I want to be able to get to spots on the floor to open up things for my teammates.”
In Patriot League play last winter, Scanlon often displayed his ability to drive past defenders and finish at the rim, something we did not see too much in his freshman season. Now, it’s all about perfecting this facet of his game. He wants to be able to blow by defenders on any given possession.
“He has worked very hard on his ball-handling skills,” Jones said. “His ability to drive the ball and get past people, his ability to finish plays. He has gotten stronger. He has gotten quicker. He has gotten more athletic.”
Scanlon’s physical improvements have caught eyes in preseason practice.
“He’s been easily the most dominant player in practice from start to finish,” Jones said. “He’s been terrific.”
He is also focused on improving defensively. Scanlon led the team with 5.5 rebounds per game and was active on the defense last season, but he would like to add another facet to his defensive arsenal.
“Being able to guard smaller guys on defense, making sure my footwork is good,” Scanlon said. “Working on my quickness.”
This is all part of the process of Scanlon becoming a lockdown defender for the Terriers. In today’s college basketball, every team needs someone who can knock down a three and then put the clamps on the opposition’s best player on the opposite end of the floor.
If Scanlon harnesses the ability to do both, he could be the most valuable player on the BU roster this season.