Opportunity meets enthusiasm
Former player and assistant lands dream job as head basketball coach
“This is my dream job. My blood bleeds Maverick blue,” said Cross, who in April was named the school’s eighth head coach since it became a senior college in 1959. “It’s always been my goal to start and finish my career here at UT Arlington.”
Cross’ start came eight years ago when former coach Eddie McCarter hired him as an assistant. He has been the University’s top assistant coach for the last three years and is regarded as one of the best recruiters in Texas.
“This announcement will be very well-received in the high school coaching community,” said UT Arlington Athletics Director Pete Carlon. “Scott is well-respected among high school coaches.”
Cross recruited former Mavericks players Donnie Beacham and Derrick Obasohan, both of whom went on to play professionally overseas. He helped recruit current players Myles Guidry, Jermaine Griffin and Larry Posey—all ranked among the top 30 players in the state by Mike Kunstadt’s Texas Basketball Review.
“Recruiting is the lifeblood of college athletics,” Cross said. “But if you don’t work hard to develop your players, you will always have a mediocre team.”
Griffin says he and his teammates are ready to work.
“The players will respond to coach Cross,” said the junior-to-be center. “He has a special relationship with all of his players. I think of him as a father figure because I know he cares about us.”
Caring is a big part of the new coach’s philosophy.
“I must show each player that I truly care about his overall development as a student, an athlete and, most importantly, as a person,” he said. “Players want discipline and need guidance and will never follow or play hard for a coach who does not care about them as people.”
Cross played in 82 games for UT Arlington from 1995-98. He averaged 11.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists as a senior while shooting a team-high 41.5 percent from three-point range. He made 21 consecutive free throws (four shy of the school record) and was ranked as high as seventh in the nation in free throw percentage.
His off-court credentials were even more impressive. He graduated from UT Arlington with a 4.0 grade-point average in marketing, then earned a master’s degree in sports leadership with a 4.0 from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is one of three two-time Academic All-Americans in school history.
McCarter resigned in March after posting a 179-211 record in 14 seasons. Cross inherits a team that went 14-16 and 7-9 in the Southland Conference last year. The Mavericks lost four starters but return several players who logged significant minutes, including Griffin, Posey, Rodrick Epps and Anthony Vereen.
“I feel like we have guys who will be able to step up and fill the void,” Cross said. “We should get better every game. I definitely feel that we will be able to compete for the conference championship.
“Then the following season everybody will return, and we should be the team to beat in the SLC.”
Cross, 31, is married to the former Jennifer Harris, who played volleyball for the Mavericks from 1995-98. They have a 1-year-old son, Austin.
“In my 25 years at UT Arlington, I have seen no one more passionate about his alma mater than Scott,” Carlon said. “All he needed was for someone to give him an opportunity.”
Cross plans to take full advantage.
“Championships are won today,” he said. “We have to be the hardest working team in the country. If we train with the mentality that each and every day is a championship, then we will be on our way to winning a championship.”
— Mark Permenter