Smith-Rivera Talks Hoosiers

Indianapolis – D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera is one of the most talked about names in IU circles with the 2012 class. Over the weekend, the North Central H.S. standout talked about his relationship with IU Coach Tom Crean and his impressions of the Hoosier program...

Indianapolis – One thought comes to mind when watching D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera dominate a game for Mark Adams' Team Indiana Elite 15-and-under squad.

Is this guy really only a high school freshman?

With a frame that looks a little bit more like a senior middle linebacker than a freshman combo guard, the Indianapolis North Central H.S. star is bigger, stronger and better than just about every other perimeter player that's on the floor with him in his age group. He proved that this weekend by helping lead his team to the Shootout championship, capped by a 26-point performance in an 88-68 win over the Spiece Indy Stars in the championship game.

But contrary to the looks of his frame as well as his game, he did just complete his first year of high school basketball. And while he still has three years of high school basketball ahead of him, he's already stirring up plenty of interest in spite of his young age.

"I'm enjoying the attention, but at the same time I try to tune it out sometimes because I really just want to play basketball," Smith-Rivera said.

The problem for Smith-Rivera, though, is that when he plays basketball college coaches can't help but take notice.

In his debut high school season he earned second-team all-Marion County honors after averaging 15.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists on a North Central H.S. team that went 23-2 and spent much of the season ranked in the nation's top 25 according to USA Today.

Among the schools showing the most early interest is Indiana, which along with Purdue has already offered the Class of 2012 standout a scholarship. That early interest has helped lure Smith-Rivera to Bloomington on a couple of occasions this year for unofficial visits, but that's not the only encounters he's had with Crean. Smith-Rivera said his younger brother occasionally plays basketball against Crean's son, and the two have bumped into each other at those events as well.

Smith-Rivera said the Hoosier coach has already made a big impression on him.

"I'm really close to Coach Crean and his whole family," Smith-Rivera said. "I like his energy – his energy brings a lot to his team. I understand this year they didn't have the best team, but his vibe and the way he is, it builds your confidence. The fans are still into it and a lot of that is because of him. I respect him a lot."

With programs like Indiana, Purdue and Ohio State among those showing interest, Smith-Rivera said he's gone as far as to give some consideration to making an early commitment. But he said right now he's not thinking about pulling the trigger. Instead, he'll focus on the AAU season and continuing to make strides in all facets of his game, particularly his defense and his perimeter shot.

"I want to enjoy me time being a kid, so at this moment, I wouldn't commit," Smith-Rivera said.

When the time does come to make a decision, though, it appears Indiana will be given very serious consideration. Smith-Rivera said he's been particularly impressed with what he's seen from Indiana during a season that every knew would be difficult from the start.

"(Crean) understands the position he's in - he makes the team better and the record didn't matter as much," Smith-Rivera said. "They went out and played hard every game and understood what was going on. I understood what was going on, and I respect the team and them for continuing to play hard." Top Stories