This is a picture of Scottie Pippen pointing with his right hand while holding the ball in his left hand. Beside him it says: Scottie Pippen's College

Scottie Pippen’s College Experience: Hope For Little Guys

Scottie Pippen’s college was the University of Central Arkansas. Pippen was not recruited out of high school but had a huge growth spurt at UCA. He was team manager as a freshman but still played a little. By his junior and senior years he was an All American and ended up being the 5th pick in the NBA Draft. 

Did Scottie Pippen Have College Offers?

No, Scottie Pippen did not have college offers coming out of Hamburg, Arkansas. 

Hamburg is a small town in Arkansas with fewer than 3,000 people living in it. Pippen was one of twelve children in his family growing up there. 

By the time he was a sophomore in high school, Pippen was a 6’0” point guard on the high school basketball team who made the varsity. 

Like a lot of regular people, Scottie didn’t play much as a sophomore. But he became a starter as a junior and by his senior season he was a very good point guard for Hamburg High School.

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Scottie Pippen Poster

Pippen made all-conference as a senior, but, remember, he was a 6’1” point guard at this point. He was a nice player but he got no real interest from any colleges. 

His high school coach, Donald Wayne,  contacted an old acquaintance Don Dyer, the head basketball coach at the University of Central Arkansas. 

Dyer arranged for Pippen to attend the University of Central Arkansas on a work study grant. 

The grant meant Pippen would serve as team manager – cleaning up and doing some chores for the athletics department.

But Pippen would also get to suit up with the team and take part in practices and games. He took full advantage of that opportunity. 

Where Did Scottie Pippen Go To College? 

Scottie Pippen attended the University of Central Arkansas or UCA. 

UCA is a public university in Conway, Arkansas. Conway is a city of 65,000 people that is about ½ hour north of Little Rock. It is about 2.5 hours north of Scottie Pippen’s hometown of Hamburg. 

The University of Central Arkansas is a public college with a history of being a teacher’s college. It still turns out many of the teachers in the state of Arkansas to this day. 

UCA was founded in 1907 and has about 9,500 undergraduate students today. It sits on a 350 acre campus and  includes six distinct colleges. 

The sports teams at UCA are nicknamed the Bears and the Sugar Bears. 

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Central Arkansas Banner

Up until 1993, the Bears competed in the NAIA, which is a college sports association that is an alternative to the NCAA. It is often looked at as being equivalent to the NCAA’s Division 2 level. 

UCA was an NAIA school when Scottie Pippen attended. 

In 1993 UCA switched to competing in the NCAA’s Division 2 level. They stayed at that level until 2006 when they joined Division 1. 

The UCA Bears joined the Southland Conference when they switched to Division 1. The Southland Conference features schools in the Louisiana and Texas area including McNeese State and Nicholls State.

In July of 2001, UCA joined the ASUN conference featuring schools from a larger geographic footprint in the Southeast including Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University and Liberty University. 

How Good Was Scottie Pippen in College? 

Scottie Pippen eventually became a dominant force for the UCA Bears, but it did not happen right away his freshman year.

Pippen started off as the team manager in 1983 but still got some minutes his freshman year. Not too many, mind you, but some. Here are his freshman stats. 


By his sophomore year, Pippen got real time and started to become a star. By now his growth spurt was in full swing and Scottie was a 6’5” player with point guard skills but the height of a small forward. 

His sophomore stats looked like this:


By his junior and senior seasons, Pippen was a completely dominant player at the NAIA level. He was now a 6’7” wing who had the skills of the point guard he was as a senior in high school. 

Pippen was an All American both his junior and senior years. His stats are below.


By the end of his college years, Pippen was an amazingly well-rounded player as you can see in his stats. He led the team in scoring and rebounding while getting a good number of assists and dominating on defense.

Eventually the UCA Bears would name their home court for him, but first there was more to prove at a higher level. 

Scottie Pippen Getting Drafted

Getting noticed by the NBA is not easy when you play at the NAIA level, but Pippen was discovered. The NBA’s scouting director watched him play and recommended that teams should check him out. 

Pippen was invited to play in the Aloha Classic with other players from across the country and began to show scouts that he belonged at the NBA level. 

The SeattleSonics selected Pippen with the 5th pick in the 1987 NBA Draft.

The Sonics quickly moved Pippen to the Chicago Bulls in a deal featuring power forward Olden Polynice. The Sonics regretted the move before too long.

In hindsight, Pippen should have been the 2nd pick in the draft. David Robinson, another player who benefitted from a huge growth spurt, was probably the right pick first overall. But outside of him, Pippen became the best player from the draft. 

And the ‘87 draft had some good players including Pippen’s Bulls teammate Horace Grant, Kevin Johnson, Reggie Miller, and Muggsy Bogues. None were quite at Scottie Pippen’s level, however. 

Pippen would team with Michael Jordan to win 6 championships for the Bulls. His dominant defense and well-rounded game made him the perfect Robin to MJ’s Batman.

No Tippin Pippen  would make 7 All Star teams, 10 All NBA Defensive teams, the 1992 Dream Team (and the 1996 Dream Team)  and the Hall of Fame. 

It was hard to predict while he was a team manager as a freshman at UCA. You never know! 

Summary: Scottie Pippen’s College

Scottie Pippen went to the University of Central Arkansas. He initially did not get a scholarship but quickly became one of the best players in the NAIA. By his junior and senior seasons, Pippen was an All American in part due to a huge growth spurt he had during college. Pippen was drafted 5th overall in the 1987 NBA Draft after dominating small school competition. 

Featured Image Photo Credit – Adapted from: Chicago Bulls Scottie Pippen 1995 CC BY 3.0.

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