Ball State University freshman guard Jauwan Scaife came into the season with a personal goal of winning the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year award by season's end.
Starting his first game at Ball State, Scaife — a Muncie Central High School product — took a positive step towards that goal. He scored 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range in Ball State's 88-78 season-opening win against Valparaiso University on Friday night at Worthen Arena.
"I thought [Scaife] played very poised, very confident, especially for a freshman in his first game," coach Billy Taylor said. "He was able to come out, shoot the ball well from the perimeter, make his free throw attempts and really play with an all-around poise that we needed."
It didn't take long for Scaife to get involved in the offense. At the 16:48 mark in the first half with the Cardinals claiming a 5-3 lead, Scaife swished his first career shot attempt.
Scaife's first 3-point attempt was nothing but net as well, a trey with 12:45 remaining in the first half to give Ball State (1-0) a 19-7 lead against the Crusaders (0-1).
As if playing in front of a hometown crowd of family and friends wasn't enough, Scaife was also playing under the close eye of his famous cousin, former Ball State basketball standout and NBA player Bonzi Wells.
Scaife and Wells spent the summer working out together in Muncie, and Taylor said just the pressure of playing in front of a hometown crowd can be burdensome to some younger players — but not Scaife.
"Being a local product, there's a lot of pressure," Taylor said. "You've got a lot of friends and family here, a lot of people that want to see him succeed and do well."
Scaife's debut comes almost one year exactly after sophomore center Jarrod Jones splashed onto the scene with a 21-point, 13-rebound performance in his first game for Ball State in the Cardinals' 72-59 win against Eastern Illinois University on Nov. 15, 2008.
Jones would go on to be named the MAC Freshman of the Year — and if Scaife continues to play like he did against Valparaiso, most won't be surprised if he adds his name to that list, as well.