Former Scotland High School basketball standout and current Winston-Salem State star Stephon Platt led the Rams to a CIAA championship in Charlotte this past weekend with a performance (21 points, 10 rebounds) that earned him the game’s MVP award.
The 62-51 victory over Elizabeth City State came on the heels of a stunning 51-48 upset of defending champion Shaw on Friday in the tournament’s semifinals.
Platt, a red shirt junior and 2009 SHS graduate, credited his critics and the memory of a disappointing 2011 CIAA tournament with fueling his MVP performance Saturday.
“There have been a lot of naysayers, saying that I wasn’t making the most of my talent, and I put them out of my head and focused on the game,” said Platt, who was also motivated by the Rams’ loss to Fayetteville State in the first round of last year’s CIAA tournament.
The importance of winning the tournament’s trophy (named after legendary former Winston-Salem coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines) on the 100th Anniversary of the CIAA was not lost on Platt, who said that he spent time studying Gaines as part of his schoolwork.
“It would have been terrible if another school had one on the 100th anniversary of the CIAA,” said Platt, who plans to continue playing at Winston-Salem State as a graduate student next season.
Asked if he had much time to celebrate the victory or his performance, Platt reported that he allowed himself to revel in the success “for maybe an hour Saturday night” before moving on to “bigger goals” in the Division II national tournament.
The Rams will take on West Virginia Wesleyan this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament – a task for which Platt has spent the entire week preparing.
“I’ve already been watching film and breaking down our next opponent,” said Platt, who once considered transferring when the Rams stepped down from Division I due to financing issues following the 2009-10 season.
“(My teammates and I) came here to be Division I athletes, and going down to Division II was a huge disappointment at first.”
Platt now says that he is glad he stayed.
Among his plans for the future is a trip back to Laurinburg to speak to current Scotland High School athletes about the merits of being studious and focusing on becoming a well-rounded person.
“There are so many people back home who have helped me, and I plan to come back and help in any way I can.
My advice to current athletes would be to understand that an athlete is a unique person – no one knows exactly what it is like to be you – and you must focus on hitting the books and training hard.”
A mass communications major, Platt counts Winston-Salem State alumnus and national sports journalist and ESPN TV host Stephen A. Smith among his influences. In a recent meeting with the team Smith singled out Platt as someone with special ability “on and off the court.”
“That meant a lot,” said Platt, who plans to one day pursue a career in the field of sports journalism.
While at Scotland High School Platt was an All-Conference and All-Region selection. He was also named SHS team MVP for three consecutive seasons.