It started out innocently enough. I found out “American Idol” winner/country cutie Scotty McCreery was going to attend the North Carolina State vs. Xavier NCAA “first four” basketball game Tuesday night at the University of Dayton Arena. It was no real surprise to hear he was bringing his tour bus full of friends and his dad to watch his beloved “Wolfpack” take on Xavier. After all, a few years ago Clark Kellogg said Dayton was one of the “top places to watch college basketball.”
What was the real surprise? To get a phone call on my cell Tuesday afternoon around 5:30 p.m. “Hey Nancy? It’s Scotty McCreery!”
Excited!! Here’s what I’m thinking, “It’s Scotty McCreery! Calling me! Oooh, I sooo now have his cell number!”
But here’s what I said out loud, “Hey Scotty! How you doing?” ever so nonchalantly. He then explains he and his crew are going to the NC game and wants to know if he can stop by the station to “say hey.”
We agree to meet at 8 p.m.. At 7:50 p.m., I’m waiting outside for a big tour bus. At 7:59, I get a text, “we’re here.” I look. Look again. How can you hide a tour bus? Aha! Wrong entrance! As I’m heading back inside, I see a young guy coming around the side of the building, trudging thru the frequently goose-visited grass. Yup, it’s Scotty. No entourage, no bodyguard. Just, Scotty. “Hey!” he says, in his backward ball cap, NCSU T-shirt, ever present cross necklace and gleaming white teeth. “I really appreciate you staying this late to see me!” (Really?) We head up to the studio and talk basketball. And “American Idol.” And airplanes. And his love for the Wolfpack. And Elvis.
Here’s five thing you probably didn’t know about Scotty McCreery:
1. Even though he won American Idol in 2010, has a hit record on his hands and is constantly on tour, he looks for the best deal. “Lord have mercy,” he laughs. “I’m always looking for the cheap flights! When anyone sees me at an airport they always ask, ‘YOU fly commercial?’ Yes, I fly commercial. You kidding me?”
2. He is a college basketball geek. “I love it! Where I’m from right in the “triangle” in North Carolina there’s NC State, there’s Duke and North Carolina. This is our best time of year down there. Normally, I’m on tour, but I scheduled a 10-day break for ‘March Madness’, loaded up the bus and came on up to Dayton for the game.”
3. When it comes to Twitter and Facebook, it really is Scotty. He takes pride in posting his own Tweets. “It’s all me! I grew up in the Social Media age, it’s kind of my thing. It’s a cool way for me to interact with fans and get some one-on-one with them. We can actually talk. I really love that.”
4. He loves Elvis Presley. “My go-to is ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ but then I love ‘Suspicious Minds’, ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ You never know when I’ll just break out in an Elvis song!” We’ll see what comes out of his mouth at his Clark State Performing Arts Center show April 17th.
5. He and Dayton men’s basketball coach Archie Miller go way back. “Yes! I grew up loving Archie Miller! He was the man! He could shoot the three ball like none other. He was one of those guys who kind of like the underdog, but he came in and he was ‘lights out!’ Yeah, we got a lotta love for Archie Miller.” Archie was a starting point guard for the Wolfpack 1998-2002, with 218 career three pointers. Did Scotty have a prediction for the UD/OSU Buckeye matchup this week? “Y’all know I’m a Wolfpack fan, but Go Flyers!”
And with that, our time is over. The bus is again AWOL. Spotting it around the corner, Scotty gives me a hug and thanks me for “taking the time to hang with him.” With a grin and wave, he sticks his hands in his pockets and takes off over the goosey-grass. “Until we meet again Scotty,” I smile to myself. Or until I get the nerve to text. I do have his number you know.
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