At left, Scott High sophomore Trey Morrow is pictured with his parents, Kevin and Rebecca Morrow, and his coach, Jordan Jeffers, is he is honored for 1,000 career points on Friday, January 24, 2020. At right, Oneida junior Nathan Bowling is congratulated by his coach, Jacob King, as his parents, Phillip and Andrea Bowling, look on during a celebration for 1,000 career points on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

Scott High and Oneida honored players this past week who have reached the 1,000-point marks of their career.

On Friday, prior to the start of their 62-57 win over Kingston, the Highlanders honored Trey Morrow. The sophomore scored his 1,000th point in the first half of a January 17 game against Fulton, becoming the second-fastest player to 1,000 points in Scott High history — trailing only Rusty Yaden.

On Saturday, the Indians honored junior Nathan Bowling, who scored his 1,000th point early in the third quarter of a 50-39 win over York Institute that night.

Morrow and Bowling are the second and third local players to reach 1,000 points this season. Earlier, Oneida senior Dalton Yancey scored his 1,000th career point in a January 9 game at York. He was also honored last week, prior to the start of the Indians’ win over Coalfield on January 21.

All three have had incredible careers for their respective schools, making an impact from the first time they stepped onto the court as freshmen. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about Morrow and Bowling is that they still have plenty of scoring left in them, barring injury or other unforeseen circumstances.

Bowling may not have enough time to become Oneida’s first 2,000-point scorer since Cole West, unless the Indians make deep postseason runs both this season and next. But it seems quite possible that Morrow, who had 25 more points on Friday in the win over the Yellowjackets and still has two-plus seasons left to play in red before he undoubtedly heads off for a college career somewhere, could challenge the Highlanders’ all-time scoring record.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about the both of them, though, isn’t how many points they score — but how they play the game.

Bowling and Morrow are essentially cut from the same cloth. It’s not too uncommon to find spectacularly talented players in high school basketball, and it’s not too uncommon to find selfless players in high school basketball. But it’s quite rare to find spectacularly talented players that are as selfless as they are talented. The fact that they’re playing their high school ball at the same time, both in Scott County, makes it a rarer occurrence still.

We’ve all seen players who let the spirit of competition cloud their judgment — just as it clouds the judgment of the adults who coach the game and those who pack the stands to watch the game … especially this writer. There’s no sense in calling out players by name, but there’s also no point in ignoring the obvious. There have been some very talented athletes who have stepped into Highlander Gymnasium over the past couple of weeks as Scott High has hosted some of the best teams in the greater Knoxville area … and as the intensity levels have increased, not all of them have reacted as perhaps we’d want our sons to react if they were blessed with that kind of talent and were placed on that kind of stage.

You don’t get that out of Nathan Bowling or Trey Morrow. They never trash-talk an opponent, never engage with riled-up student sections from opposing schools, never question an official’s judgment call, never talk back to their coaches. They simply show up, play the game at a high level, and let their performance do the talking. 

The way these two young men play the game of basketball is a tribute to them, and it’s also a tribute to the coaches who’ve trained them and the parents who’ve raised them. The way they play the game is also an inspiration for the dozens (hundreds?) of youth basketball players throughout this community — from those playing at the Boys & Girls Club on Friday nights and Saturdays to those playing in middle school gyms on Monday and Thursday nights — who dream of being the stand-out high school basketball players of tomorrow. If you want your aspiring basketball players at home to emulate a star player that they’re watching on Friday nights, you simply couldn’t ask for better options than Nathan Bowling or Trey Morrow. The fact that they’re both “our” kids, here in Scott County, isn’t something that should be taken for granted.

I have long said that, when it comes to high school sports, Scott County has good kids. They’re not perfect, and it’s not that none of them ever make poor choices on the court or the field, or the diamond or the pitch. But, overall, they’re good kids. And not every community can say that. It’s a tribute to all the people who help shape this community. But what makes the current situation unique is that it’s quite rare to be able to argue that the best player in the district at both the Class A level and the Class AA level are from the same small county of less than 25,000 people. And that’s the case you can make for Bowling or Morrow. By the time mid February rolls around, both of them may have been named district MVPs, or neither of them may have been. But, either way, they can stand toe-to-toe with just about any player in East Tennessee, at any level.

It has been asked, “How good would Scott High — which is currently 18-2 and has been ranked in the Top 5 in the state this season — be if Nate Bowling had decided to play for the Highlanders?” It has also been asked, “How good would Oneida — which is in first place in District 3-A and is expected to contend for a trip to Murfreesboro for the state tournament — be if Trey Morrow had decided to play for the Indians?” Those are hypotheticals that are fun to ponder. But perhaps what makes it even more exciting is that one of them decided to go to school at Oneida, and one of them decided to go to school at Scott High. Because no matter which part of Scott County these younger basketball players come from, they can go to a gym on Friday night and see an excellent example of how to play the game of basketball.

There are other exceptionally good players at both Scott High and Oneida, of course, and nothing that’s written here is meant to take anything away from them. Many of them are likely to celebrate their own individual accomplishments before their high school playing days are over. For now, though, it’s about a celebration of reaching that 1,000-point plateau — and doing it the right way. And these kids are shining examples of doing it the right way.

From the Pressbox is a weekly sports column by Independent Herald editor Ben Garrett. Contact him at bgarrett@ihoneida.com.