Van Buren's Mitchell Smith may have been born in Georgia, but he is clear where he would like to play his college basketball.
Smith, a 6-9, 185-pound sophomore, had 11 points and 10 rebounds Friday afternoon to lead the Pointers over Little Rock Central 54-36 in the opening round of the Class 7A state tournament at Buzz Bolding Arena.
That was a game after Smith having 25 points and 14 rebounds in a loss at Springdale on Friday night.
"I love Arkansas," Smith said. "I love how they play. They play fast and that is how I like to play. I like to run up and down the court and get dunks, lay ups and steals. They are doing real good this season, looks like they are going to the (NCAA) Tournament and maybe one day I will be a Hog."
Smith is averaging 14.6 points and 7.1 rebounds this season for the Pointers and that has been enough to get offers already from Arkansas-Fort Smith and Ouachita Baptist with no doubt bigger schools soon coming.
"He's had a great year," Van Buren head coach Randy Loyd said. "He has made a great step from last year and, of course, as a ninth-grader you don't expect a whole lot, but he still helped us win a lot of games. This year he has really become the man. If we need points around the basket, we are going to throw it to him. He makes plays.
"His thing from here on out, the next two years, is how strong can he get, how much weight can he put on," Loyd added. "Skill-wise, he's there. He can still improve. His perimeter game has got to be a little bit better, but once he does that, the sky is the limit for him."
Arkansas is the only team that has shown a great deal of interest in Smith to this point, but Loyd expects that to change after he plays with the Arkansas Wings AAU team this summer.
"Really it's just Arkansas right now," Loyd said. "They are the only ones that have been in so far, but his name is not out there. He is going to play some AAU ball this summer and coaches will see him and see how much he has developed from last year until this year and I expect a lot more next year at this time."
Loyd hopes Smith, who was born in Macon and moved to Arkansas in 2007, will continue to progress physically.
"He's at 185, but he was at 170, 171 last year," Loyd said. "He put on 13 or 14 pounds and he has got to continue that. By the time he is a senior hopefully he can be 210, 215 – something like that."
Smith played up in age in AAU ball last spring and summer and got a rude awakening.
"For summer I played up with the 18 year olds and playing against them got me a lot stronger," Smith said. "I saw I couldn't be weak in this league if I wanted to be good. So I got in the weight room and started getting more physical and working on my jump hooks and my post game and I really feel like it has come along this year."
Smith, whose dad played soccer from Georgia Tech, says he has grown up liking Georgia Tech, Kansas and Arkansas.
"Everyone wants to be a Hog when you see the way they play," Smith said. " A lot of people go watch him. I love Coach Anderson. I like his coaching style. He gets wins and I like to play fast."
Smith was the tallest player on the floor on Friday, but knows that certainly won't be the case in college.
"I don't know, probably the 4," Smith said of his likely college position. "I have been working on my handles because in college at 6-9 you are a guard, you are not a post player out there. Whereever they want me is whereever I will go."
Van Buren (21-5) will battle Fort Smith Northside Saturday at 5:30 in the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Smith's Pointing Toward The Future
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