ISU Pursues Minneapolis Forward

Several high level Division I programs are calling on a prolific small forward from the Minnesota high school ranks, but Iowa State coaches have good reason to believe their foots are in the door with a junior considered to be in a national top-50 player.

Minneapolis Patrick Henry standout Brandon Smith has already visited Ames twice for unofficial visits. But Wayne Morgan and his staff also know it will be a tough battle to secure Smith's services for the 2005-06 season.

"There are some pretty strong ties and I know Brandon's been down there a couple times," said Smith's AAU coach Ryan Thornton. "Brandon has the entire Big 10 and UConn and Georgia Tech are on him. He has all of the big boys calling on him. He's also an outstanding student with a 3.9 grade-point average. He should not have a problem qualifying."

The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Smith starred on Team Minnesota last summer where he started to attract some big-time attention, most recently averaging 14.4 points per game in the ‘Hoops in the Heartland' Tournament in Iowa City. Smith currently stars for Patrick Henry and helped them to a state championship last season as a sophomore.

An AAU teammate of 6-foot-5 shooting guard Ray Brown, Thornton says the two players are somewhat different at this point of their basketball careers.

"Brandon's definitely a lot further along in the strength department," Thornton said. "He's a man right now with great athleticism. He's probably already at 205 pounds and is in great shape. He can handle the ball and pass it very well. His biggest strength right now is the ability to overpower guards and get to the basket and finish. He's a really good defensive player as well and brings a lot of energy to the game."

Perhaps the only thing preventing Smith from breaking through for more national attention is his outside game, said Thornton.

"Once he improves his jump shot he could be considered one of the elites in the country," said the AAU coach. "He's more of a slasher-type at this moment, but I know he's working on that jump shot. The knock on him right now is he doesn't have that fluid jump shot. He's a streaky shooter, can make that shot and you can't give it to him all day, but if you're guarding him you want him to beat you with the jump shot."

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