Has time dimmed the memory of all the extraordinary things that Scoonie Penn did on the basketball court? Apparently it has, because Scoonie’s magnificent career was overlooked in our list of the Top 10 Most Amazing North Shore Sports Accomplishments in the last 25 years.
There is absolutely no question in my mind that the dynamic 5-foot-10 point guard from Salem High, who ranks as one of the greatest scorers in state history with 2,189 points, belongs in our Top 10 whether you’re talking about his final fantastic year with the Witches or his overall body of work.
Following in the footsteps of Rick Brunson at Salem, Penn capped off a brilliant four-year high school run by carrying the Witches to a 25-0 record and the Division 2 state championship in 1994-95. He was the complete package | a leader, playmaker, scorer, defender and the heart and soul of coach Paul Garrity’s program.
His most memorable regular season game as a senior came in the finale against a very good Peabody team. With his sidekick, Jamal Camah, forced to sit out the game, Penn stepped up and scored 53 points in a 77-75 victory. The Witches then went 5-0 in the postseason, and I still have this image of Scoonie bowing to all the Salem fans at the Worcester Centrum near the end of an 81-68 drubbing of Greenfield in the state title game.
Penn went from local hero to national fame after finishing up at Salem. He was named MVP of the Big East Tournament his sophomore year at Boston College and then, after transferring to Ohio State, he led the Buckeyes in 1999 to their first NCAA Final Four appearance since 1968. He also received the Naismith Award as the nation’s top senior under six feet tall. An NBA draft choice (Atlanta Hawks) in 2000, Penn has extended his career by playing in Europe for the last eight years, turning down a guaranteed contract by the Milwaukee Bucks in the process.
Taking everything into consideration, Penn has had a legendary career and deserves the honor of being in our Top 10.