by Malik Vincent
For New Pittsburgh Courier
Even though Section 2 of the WPIAL Class AAAA conference is filledwith some of the region’s best athletic talent, Gateway, an undefeated 6-0, refuse to sell themselves short in any way.
With three players that are 6-foot-5 and taller, the Gateway boys basketball team features one of Western PA’s tallest starting lineups.
Similar to the Boston Celtics–before Rajon Rondo pushed himself into the equation–Gateway has a trio of players that they refer to as their ‘big three’.
It is made up of 6-foot-7 senior Devon Cottrell and three-year junior letter-winners in swingman Tyler Scott (6-foot-6) as well as big man Barnett Harris (6-foot-10).
“You can rely on the fact that two of the big three is always going to be on the court for us,” Gateway coach Mitch Adams said.
That type of star-power helped Gateway to knock off St. Vincent-St. Mary’s prep out of Akron, Ohio, the school that produced the Miami Heat superstar and NBA icon, LeBron James, 62-55, at the Battle of the Borders tournament that was hosted by the Gators.
“It felt like just another game on the schedule,” Adams said. “It didn’t feel much different than any other win. We have to do what we have to do, each and every game.”
They’ve already defeated section rivals Penn Hills and Woodland Hills.
“One thing that those two have in common is that they’re both very athletic,” Adams said. “What’s going to determine the outcome of this is focus and consistency. We’ve got to stay focused for the 30 games that we’ll, hopefully, play this year.”
According to Scott, Cottrell can be compared to the New York Knicks stud Amare Stoudamire with his ability to score in many ways, rebound, and block shots in the paint.
“He’s a huge asset to our team,” Scott said.
Cottrell’s coach mentioned that he joined the Gateway program in the 7th grade as a ball boy, and has been a part of it since.
“He’s like a son to me,” Adams added.
Similarly each of the ‘big three’ have garnered a diverse amount of attention from Division-I programs. St. Peters and Tennessee-Martin have placed official scholarships on the table for Cottrell. Robert Morris, Loyola-Maryland, Chicago, and Tennessee-Chattanooga are also displaying interest.
Scott also described fellow star, Harris, as a big man who can handle the ball, see the court, and also work well in the post and can “dominate a game at will.”
Harris and Scott, as juniors, have gotten official scholarship offers from Duquesne. Tyler’s father, Rod, played at Duquesne from 1979-82.
Scott could be one of the WPIAL’s best scorers. He averaged 15.5 points per game as a sophomore and has already registered multiple 20 point games so far this season. With that, he gets a lot of attention, but not always the kind he wants.
“There have been times when defenses have recognized how hard it is to match up with us,” Scott said. “They get frustrated quickly. We recently held Norwin to 47 points and they weren’t too happy about that. I once went up for a dunk, an alley-oop, against them and I got upper-cutted right before I got to the rim. It’s very frustrating sometimes.”
Scott also has interest from Kent State, Cleveland State, Tennessee-Chattanooga, and Detroit.
(Malik Vincent can be reached at email@example.com.)