Smith Says He's Got A Leader

BOONVILLE, N.C. – Nolan Smith, one of the top combo guards in the Class of 2007, has settled in on a leader. The Oak Hill junior broke it down with before Oak Hill put a whipping on Starmount Wednesday night.

Quietly, Nolan Smith and his family snuck into Cameron Indoor earlier this month to take in a game and have a sit down with Duke's Mike Krzyzewski. The post-game visit, which lasted 2 hours, seems to have given the Blue Devils the momentum with Smith.

"The leader now is definitely Duke," the 6-foot-3 guard told Wednesday night.

Smith, whose mother also took in the visit to Durham and enjoyed the trip, said the Blue Devils are quickly building a rapport with him.

"They let me know that I can call Coach K and ask him questions. (Krzyzewski) told me that he wants to start building a relationship."

Apparently, the Blue Devils are the Donald Trump of relationship building because they forge friendships quickly. Smith said he could see himself making a decision as early as this month. Now, mind you, he was once close last spring when Louisville assumed the leadership role, so he's been down this path before but he sounds like a young man settling in on a decision.

"I think I'm at the point where I'm ready to do it and get it over with. A lot of schools backed when I told them where I was looking." Presently, Smith counts only Duke, Louisville and Georgetown on his list.

When asked if anyone could close the gap between Duke and the other two schools, Smith left opened the possibility of leadership changing hands. "It could but if Louisville comes in harder that could change. Duke has been the best to me and my family."

Smith has briefly spoken with Rick Pitino on occasion and admitted the Louisville has been on him the longest while the Blue Devils remain his most ardent pursuer at the moment. His contact with Georgetown and its head coach consisted of a meeting with John Thompson in the Hoyas office when Smith let the coach know that he was "open" and recruitable by Georgetown.

Wherever Smith chooses to make his next home, that program will be getting a talented guard. Smith's play this season for top-ranked Oak Hill has been stellar (though he wasn't really needed on Wednesday night). In fact, in some respects, Smith is in the midst of a revival with his game.

Since he was 14 years old, Nolan Smith has worn size 17 sneakers. The common school of thought when he hit the high school scene was that he'd be anywhere from 6-7 to 6-9 because of his feet. He hasn't grown and there was even a stretch during his sophomore year that he appeared to be leveling off as a player.

Since last summer and through his junior season, Smith's game has been outstanding. He admitted that he wasn't improving but set out to change that aspect of his game.

"I think last summer I got more serious in my workouts," Smith said. "I'm lifting weights and getting quicker. That confidence grew over the summer and at Oak Hill that confidence skyrocketed."

Hey, who's to say he's done growing anyway? Smith always leaves open the possibility of getting bigger kicks. "I think I might hit one more growth spurt. My mom said my dad grew 6 inches when he got to college."

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