IU target Scruggs helps Southport to big win in Bloomington

He swooped into the lane from nowhere in particular, grabbing an offensive rebound in the waning seconds and pushing the ball back toward the goal to beat the third-quarter buzzer and give his team a two-point lead.

For Southport star Paul Scruggs, it was merely just one rebound and one basket of the many.

Scruggs, a 6-foot-3 IU target in the class of 2017, posted a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds in the Cardinals’ 66-61 win at Bloomington South on Friday. The sophomore found success both driving through the South defense and working from the middle of its 2-3 zone, leading Southport to its first win over South in recent memory.

He did it in front of at least one notable visitor, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who traveled to Bloomington to watch both Scruggs and 6-foot-10 Southport junior center Joey Brunk. Scruggs said he’s been in contact with IU coach Tom Crean every other week, while hearing from Michigan and Michigan State recently. He visited Indiana in August and again for Hoosier Hysteria in late October. Scruggs, a four-star prospect according to Rivals and 24-7 Sports, said Friday that he plans on visiting Kansas, Michigan and Michigan State in the future.

“They say they like the motor I have,” Scruggs said of the general assessment he’s been given by college coaches. “They like how I’m always on the go. They want me to try and work on going different speeds and work on my shot.”

Among the things he’s looking for in a college choice is a close relationship with his coach. Indiana’s early offer prior to his freshman season was Scruggs’ first, and he said that might give Crean and the Hoosiers an advantage at the moment.

“He’s honest with me,” Scruggs says of his relationship with Crean. “He tells me the truth.”

Scruggs still needs to develop a consistent long-range shot and his defense is coming along. He’s also trying to improve his ball handling. In the meantime, he’s helping rebuild a Southport program that’s ranked No. 2 in the state.

He and the Cardinals (3-0) took another step forward Friday with a big win in Bloomington.

Perhaps for him, it’s the first of many.