Smith Rockets Up Recruiting Charts
EDITOR'S NOTE: Kentucky coach Tubby Smith has reportedly been on hand to scout Devin Smith twice this month. The juco star could be another late addition to the Cats' roster if certain players leave the program as expected.
Devin Smith, junior college basketball's hottest recruit these days? Say what? That's right, the native of the First State - aka Delaware - has carved a pretty impressive niche for himself and it didn't take long for him to do it.
Smith, a 6-5 freshman, was the conference player of the year in his league this season. He has offers from Illinois, Kansas, Iowa, Virginia, UNLV and the list keeps on growing. All this in less than a year because last season, only UMBC was interested.
That's right, UMBC. Despite being the Player of the Year in Delaware and playing for a state championship team, Smith had just one offer. AND, he was a qualifier. The reason, though it seems silly now, is quite simple.
Devin Smith wasn't a high-major player last year.
I'll be honest. As a sophomore, I really liked him. Thought he was a high-major guy. As he progressed toward the end of his career, he looked to be putting on pounds, a little heavy legged and seemed to be coming up short on fuflfilling all the promise he had. In turn, I thought he was a mid-major guy at best. So did a lot of schools. Some didn't even think mid-major.
"I didn't even think that and I wasn't the only one because UMBC was the only one to offer him," one Division I assistant said. "They can say whatever they want to say. The guy was an undersized post guy (in high school).
"I guess he just made himself into a stone cold shooter."
Further adding to the idea that Smith basically launched his all-american campaign post high school in Delaware is the fact that Delaware is a small state. It's real hard to hide talent in a state with just over 700,000 people.
When Dexter Boney (UNLV), Gary Lumpkin (Xavier), Brian Polk (Temple), Lloyd Price (Xavier) and Lenny Brown (Xavier) were in high school, they were stars. Lumpkin and Brown even played at Smith's high school, William Penn. Again, they weren't sleepers in the state, they were stars and everybody up and down the east coast knew these were the best players in Delaware.
Last season, Smith wasn't even the best prospect in his county. At the time, sophomore Will Sheridan of Sanford was and remains the best talent in the first state. Sheridan, now a junior, is a national recruit. The point is: as small a state as Delaware is, the best players still receive quality attention.
Devin Smith was a good player. Good enough to be the player of the year his senior season. But, he was not good enough as a senior in high school to receive the kind of attention he's getting now. Ah, what a difference a year makes.
"He's comparable to guys who go to prep schools for a year and go from low-major to high-major," the assistant said.
Smith blew up at Coffeyville this year. It's a great success story and he should be proud of his accomplishments. Right now, he has the world at his fingertips. It's an amazing what an extra year can do for a young man.
It's tough to predict kids sometimes. We need not look any further than Devin Smith. This 6-5 small forward from New Castle, Del., is the hottest name on the planet in recruiting circles.