Skip to main contentSkip to main navigationSkip to footer content
Garrett Scott is surrounded by family and friends as he signs his National Letter of Intent to play basketball for the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith

Garrett Scott, center, signs his National Letter of Intent to play for UAFS. Credit Pocola Schools.

Athletics | News | StudentsApril 19, 2024

Second Recruiting Class for Gibson Starts with Local Talent

Written By: Ian Silvester

University of Arkansas – Fort Smith men’s basketball head coach Zane Gibson has his mind dialed into making his second season at the end of the bench a success. Under Gibson’s direction, the Lions finished the 2023-2024 season, their last in the Lone Star Conference, with a record of 7-21 (5-17). Although it wasn’t the ending the team hoped for, Gibson’s return to UAFS sparked a resurgence of excitement throughout the program.

Year two is already underway, and it began with the commitment and signing of Pocola (Oklahoma) High School star point guard Garrett Scott.

At 6’3”, Garrett is a multi-sport athlete, competing in football, basketball, and track. He said that while he loves playing football and running track, basketball has always been his passion. Playing at the next level was a dream come true.

“I’ve always considered being a Lion,” he said. “I grew up going to their camps and games. I always loved coming, going to the gym, and watching them. I always wanted to go there, and I’m really excited to play for Coach Gibson.”

Being a Lion also runs in the family. Garrett’s mom attended when the university still went by Westark, and his half-brother is a recent graduate.

Gibson and Garrett have been linked for some time. Gibson was close to Garrett’s dad when the senior Scott was an assistant coach at Northside High School in Fort Smith during Gibson’s first stint on the UAFS coaching staff. In the years since, Gibson watched Garrett finish his high school career with 1,633 points – averaging 21 points per game in his senior season – and lead the Indians to a state runner-up finish.

Despite the connection to Garrett, Gibson understood that recruiting and luring him to play in Arkansas required him to overcome the Oklahoma Promise. This scholarship program pays Oklahoma high school graduates full tuition to attend a two-year college or four-year university. Gibson’s pitch came down to two main factors.

“It’s important to keep good talent home. If they’re good enough, we wanted to keep the best players in the River Valley, in the River Valley,” Gibson stated.

“The thing that we always stress to anybody we’re recruiting is fit. And fit is probably the biggest thing, honestly. … We want to do things for the right reasons; your college choice shouldn’t be different.”

Gibson referred to a statistic that stands out to him as a coach: only 3% of all high school basketball players play at the next level. Whether it’s at “Division One, Division Two, Division Three, JUCO, NAIA, it’s only 3% of the whole country,” he emphasized.

Gibson said Garrett should be proud to have earned a scholarship to play at UAFS from a small Oklahoma high school. It’s an accomplishment that also gives players like Garrett hope that they, too, can one day achieve their goals.

“I’m proud of myself, but I know that the job’s not finished, and I still have a lot more work to do,” Garrett said. “But it shows leadership. It shows that as long as you put your mind to it, put in the work, and don’t give up, you can play at the next level no matter how big or small you are.”

Garrett’s signing made sense. He’s a local player with a solid connection to the high school he will soon graduate from, and he knew UAFS was the perfect fit. With Garrett being an all-around athlete, Gibson knew he was getting a winner with his second recruiting class’s first commit.

“When we find a guy that plays another sport, it gives them another check because that means they’re multi-dimensional. … It’s something we (as a staff) love, and I like guys who like to compete. Garrett has no reason to run track right now other than he’s just competing. He’s just trying to win.”

The Lions will move to the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, or MIAA, in the fall. Gibson said that the move would be a challenge to adjust personnel-wise, but with seven returning players and newcomers like Garrett slotting in, Gibson is confident in the team's direction. Garrett couldn’t agree more.

“All the teams we’ll be playing are huge, and it’s a great conference. It’s one of the toughest conferences. We’re going to have to work hard and work on our game and stay locked into the process. If we do that, we can be great. We can do big things, for sure,” Garrett said.

  • Tags:
  • Basketball
  • UAFS Athletics

Media Relations

The UAFS Office of Communications fields all media inquiries for the university. Email for more information.

Send an Email

Stay Up-to-Date

Sign up to receive news and updates.


Rachel Rodemann Putman

  • Director of Strategic Communications
  • 479-788-7132
Submit A News Tip