ORANGE PARK, Fla. – Taliah Scott had been committed to Arkansas for more than a year, but still managed to pull off a signing surprise.
No, there was no last-moment flip or indecision. Scott signed with the Razorbacks on Tuesday, the crown jewel of Mike Neighbors’ 2023 class. The 5-foot-9 combo guard is one of the best to play in the area, a five-star prospect with ambitions of playing in the WNBA.
But Scott and her family added a splash of the unexpected to the ceremony with the help of a little ham.
Before St. Johns athletic director Traci Livingston kicked off the signing ceremony in front of an elaborate and festive setup honoring Scott, a small pig sporting an Arkansas bandana was brought in to the gym. For as many signing day experiences as have been held at St. Johns in the past, a live pig in attendance as a nod to the Arkansas mascot, was a first.
Woo Pig Sooie!
So, how did the pig wind up apart of Scott’s big day? Some crafty planning on the part of Scott’s parents, Derrick and Marika.
“I was joking about it. I was telling my team, ‘like yeah, I’m about to get a pig off of Craigslist. I’m going to bring it in,” Scott laughed. “And then today, people asked, ‘Are you really getting a pig?’ And I was like, ‘Oh no, I don’t think so. Craigslist fell through.’ And then to see them walk in with a pig was just crazy. It was hilarious.”
While the pig was certainly a hit, Scott was the headliner. In her first season at St. Johns last year, Scott led the state in scoring (31.5 ppg) and finished fourth for the state’s Miss Basketball honor. For Scott’s swine song — pun intended — with the Spartans, the goal for her final season is a state championship. Scott and guard Mary Kate Kent, give the Spartans significant scoring power.
“I’m like so, so super proud. Like I mentioned when I was speaking [during the ceremony], I was a fan of Taliah before she came here,” said Spartans coach Yolanda Bronston. “And so, it’s just amazing to be able to coach her, to see how far she’s come, how far she’s brought the game, the girls’ game here in Northeast Florida. And I’m just super proud. Like I said, I want to find a way to clone her. If I can get a lock of her hair, it’s on.”
From a recruiting standpoint, Scott tops the conversation as the highest-rated prospect in area history in the modern era of recruiting. She is ranked No. 11 by ESPNW, a five-star player of which there haven’t been many of in the area.
Ribault grad Rennia Davis was the only other local graduate in the ESPNW HoopGurlz rankings to garner both five-star and top 12 status. Davis, who signed with Tennessee and went on to become a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Lynx, was rated as the country’s No. 12 player in the Class of 2017.
Former Potter’s House star Rellah Boothe was ranked No. 3 in the same class as Davis, although she transferred and finished out her high school career at IMG Academy. Scott is positioned well to become just the fourth McDonald’s All-American girls player from the News4JAX north Florida region. Only Ribault stars Shante Williams, Erica White and Davis have earned that prestigious honor.
Scott, the reigning All-News4JAX player of the year and three-time first-team selection, enters the season with 1,829 career points. She’s poised to join the exclusive 2,000-point club by next month.
“I’m just super blessed to have the best parents in the world for making all this happen. I didn’t know exactly what it was gonna be. They kept it a surprise until today, but I just I’m so blessed for them and they made this like the best signing they could have possibly ever been,” Scott said. “I’m so happy. And then having the support from the school, all the teachers and faculty are here. It just made it so much better, made it so surreal.”