October 20, 2020

Mississippi native makes it to the big time as NBA scout

The differences between a metropolis like Oakland, California, and Picayune, Mississippi, are stark.

However, one Picayune native has learned to combine the best of both as an advance scout for the Golden State Warriors.

Scott Vaughan was raised in Picayune, and played basketball at Picayune Memorial High School. However, after a broken arm derailed his senior season, the college offers that had been coming in almost stopped altogether.

After his recovery from the injury, he played for Pearl River Community College for two seasons before transferring to Dallas Baptist University in Texas.

As his college career came to a close, he was asked by his coach if he’d like to stay on and get a master’s degree while doing some coaching and scouting for the team.

Vaughan figured it would be a great opportunity, and his next steps took him to a variety of high school and college programs where he continued to coach and scout.

Eventually, while coaching for a private high school in Texas, a former coworker called Vaughan and said there was an opportunity to be an advance scout for the Utah Jazz. Vaughan seized the moment, and as the years went on he began scouting more and more games for the organization.

An assistant coach with the NBA Jazz, Jeff Hornacek, was an admirer of Vaughan’s work ethic and skill. He told Vaughan that if he ever got a head coaching job, he’d like Vaughan to work with him.

At the time that didn’t seem feasible, but one day as Vaughan was driving he heard on the radio that the NBA’s Phoenix Suns had hired Hornacek as their new head coach. The next day he got the call that was promised, and he signed on as the Sun’s advance scout.Years later Hornacek was fired and Vaughan found himself wanting a new challenge with a new team. As fortune would have it, another former coworker who then worked with the Warriors called Vaughan and offered him the job as their only advance scout.The responsibilities of an advance scout are enormous, especially when working for a team that has championship expectations every year.

Vaughan’s job is to scout the opposing team, to the finest of details. Calls made, plays run, everything the opposing team does Vaughan has to document, tag with a phrase the coaching staff understands, and then send that information in to be reviewed by the coaching staff before the game. That means Vaughan will be up until 4 in the morning gathering information before taking a 7 a.m. flight to the next arena, and start the whole process again. Vaughan said that work ethic comes from the influences he had in Picayune while growing up.

“Growing up in a small town builds character, and it was a great influence for me,” Vaughan said. “It made me kind of want to work hard and have a positive influence on people.”

Being raised in Picayune also motivated his decision to join the Warriors after seeing how the staff and superstar players treated other people.

“Steve Kerr is extremely family oriented, and Steph and Klay are the same,” Vaughan said. “That was a big thing for me because growing up in a small town being family oriented is important.”

Even now when he’s thousands of miles away from the town he called home for so many years, he still remembers where he came from and how it impacted his life.

“It was important to me the influences I had both positive and negative,” Vaughan said.

“Your coaches and teachers have such a lot of influence on you, now I want to positively impact the players.”