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James "Scoonie" Penn
Ohio State
Penn (right) is a strong defender, but it's his shooting and leadership that fuel the Buckeyes. AP
Position:  Guard
Height:  5'10"
Weight:  185
Class:  Junior
Stat to note
Penn can score (17 points a game) and dish it (4.6 assists per), but his real strength is his leadership. With him at the point, the Buckeyes won 15 more games than they did last year, a school record.
Scouting report
His mom used to call him Uno, for No. 1, and Scoonie kind of grew out of that, OK?

Scoonie -- the nickname grows on you -- heads into the NCAA Tournament hobbled, with a bruised left hip and sore buttocks. But expect him to grit it out. With backcourt mate Michael Redd, Ohio State has one of the country's most devastating guard tandems, and the Buckeyes are picked by many as a Sweet 16 sure thing.

Scoonie had to sit out a season after transferring from Boston College, following head coach Jim O'Brien. It was a chancy move, considering Penn was named Big East Rookie of the Year in 1996. But it worked out: Penn was voted the Big Ten MVP is in his first year in Columbus.

Penn -- Scoonie, remember? -- is a strong shooter (46 percent overall), though he got off to a slow start in this year's tournament. Penn, probably still hobbled by his injuries, went 2-for-12 against Murray State (and 1-for-8 in 3-point tries) in Ohio State's first-round win.

Still, as important as good guard play is in the tournament, if he and Redd can get hot for a few straight games, we soon could be looking at Ohio State as the Numero Scoonie team in the nation.

SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVE
March 15, 1999: Eddie Shannon, Florida
March 12, 1999: James "Scoonie" Penn, Ohio State
March 11, 1999: Doug Gottlieb, Oklahoma State
March 10, 1999: Shawnta Rogers, George Washington
March 9, 1999: Michael Jordan, Pennsylvania



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