In the summer of 2015, everything was going well for basketball star Ashley Scoggin.
The basketball star was entering her senior year of high school as a two-time first-team all-metro player for the state of Oregon and had multiple scholarship offers.
All of that disappeared when she went down with a knee injury.
“The first time I tore my ACL in high school it made me depressed,” Scoggin said. “The worst thing in my basketball career felt like it happened to me, and at the time I was wondering what I was going to do. There were many athletes who bounced back from an ACL tear, but there were also many athletes who didn’t.”
Scoggin suffered her life-changing left knee injury in July 2015 during an AAU game. However, she said it took a month before she learned the severity of her injury. She underwent surgery in September, causing her to miss her senior year of basketball.
This in turn led to Scoggin losing all of her scholarship offers and even caused her to delay her college enrollment a year. After graduating high school, Scoggin said she focused on rehab, wanting to get back into the game.
Scoggin finally got back into action on the court in 2017 when she enrolled at Salt Lake City Community College two years after her ACL tear.
“They gave me a second chance,” Scoggin said. “Without that, who knows where I would be.
But they believed in me, and, without them, I don't know if I'd even be in Nebraska. I’m forever grateful for that.”
Scoggin came back into form as she started her first six games for the Bruins, and she managed a 26-point performance in her first game. But fate wasn’t on her side. In mid-November, she suffered another ACL tear. This time around, the tear was in her right knee, and it turned out to be worse than her left tear.
After getting surgery in January 2018, Scoggin tried to get back into action that summer. But she would soon have another ACL surgery later that year, causing her to miss the 2018-19 season.
“There were a lot of mental and physical challenges that I had to go through,” Scoggin said. “But there were days where I asked, ‘Why did this happen to me? Why did I have three ACL reconstruction surgeries?’”
Then, in September 2019, two years after her second ACL tear and four years after her first, Scoggin returned to the court once more and stayed healthy. In her first and only full season at Salt Lake, Scoggin averaged 10 points, four rebounds and even earned first-team All-Region 18 honors. She was a member of the Region 18 All-Tournament team and also helped the Bruins win the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 18 title.
“I loved playing for Salt Lake City,” Scoggin said. “I miss my teammates, coaches, everyone. We built this bond, and I still talk to them. Plus, to get my feet wet after being out for a really long time just felt good. I thought, ‘I'm actually out here now, I'm actually able to do what I love again,’ and that boosted my confidence.”
Then, the season came to a bittersweet end due to COVID-19, preventing Scoggin and her team from competing in the NJCAA tournament, an opportunity that would have given her a chance at greater exposure to Division I coaches.
That didn’t stop Scoggin from sending emails out to schools across the country. The next thing she knew, she was heading to Lincoln, Nebraska.
“I was excited,” Scoggin said. “After everything that I had gone through, I got to go to a place where I couldn’t believe I was going to. I was so happy that coach [Amy] Williams, assistant coach Chuck Love and the team saw potential and that I was willing to work through adversity.”
Scoggin arrived in Nebraska in May 2020, where she immediately settled in and began preparations for the upcoming season. However, with the prior obstacles in her career, Scoggin was worried about what else could occur. Scoggin said her father gave her some advice.
“My dad said, ‘You may not be the same player you were before, but now you're smarter and tougher,’” Scoggin said. “You had this mentally tough experience, and look at what you did. Hearing that completely changed my mindset going forward.”
Scoggin and her family compare her mentality to that of a warrior, a word that Scoggin took to heart, eventually tattooing it on her right wrist. Now, even though she said she no longer has the same explosiveness as before, Scoggin has found other, more efficient ways to be a threat.
“Before I got injured, I didn’t care what needed to be done in a game,” Scoggin said. “If we needed a bucket, I would sacrifice my body, but I can't do that anymore. I can't put myself at that much risk. I had to become smarter and work on a lot of footwork.”
Of the 12 players on Nebraska’s roster, Scoggin was one of five Huskers to play the entire season, not missing any of the 26 games. Along with that, Scoggin averaged 31 minutes per game.
In terms of her performance, Scoggin finished the season with 13 double-digit point games and was the Huskers’ fourth leading scorer with 8.5 points per game. A majority of Scoggin’s 221 points of the season came from beyond the arc, as she led the team in 3-pointers with 43.
“The way that Ashley has transferred and became a new player in this program was amazing,” head coach Amy Williams said. “She just seamlessly stepped in and found a way to really contribute and be a threat from behind the arc. She can produce points but also just embrace defensively whatever we need her to do and work hard.”
Scoggin’s journey has proven to be a memorable one, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. The redshirt sophomore is a finalist for the NCAA Division I Junior College Transfer of the Year award. Scoggin is one of 10 players to be selected as a finalist, a recognition which Williams said is well-deserved.
“I'm just excited for Ashley,” Williams said. “She’s played a huge role for this team and has been through a lot. So, to see her receive some accolades for that is just amazing.”
The winner of the award will be announced on April 9. Scoggin, however, is focusing more on continuing her Nebraska career and moving forward, a mindset that she hasn’t forgotten.
“I never gave up,” Scoggin said. “There's an endless amount of excuses that I could’ve given myself. But at the end of the day, I kept going, because maybe that next day is when you're going to get all the reward that you've been looking for.”