Smart Working Towards Elite Status

HOUSTON — After another impressive weekend by Class of 2018 guard Javonte Smart on the Nike EYBL circuit, Elfrid Payton Elite coach Mitchell Johnson spoke highly of his young standout from Louisiana.

“He’s a high-major player,” Johnson told the Cajun Redzone. “He’s an excellent, excellent kid. What I love about him is he absorbs a lot and wants to learn. He wants to get better at his craft. We’ve put him out there for on-the-job training and he’s gone out there in the heat and is doing a great job.”

Baylor proved Johnson to be correct this week as the Bears became the first school to offer Smart a scholarship, followed by Wake Forest and UMass. The 6-foot-4 Louisiana native from Scotlandville Magnet High in Baton Rouge also claims interest from Kentucky, LSU, Texas, North Carolina, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Mississippi State and Oklahoma.

Future150.com rates Smart — an all-state selection last season as a freshman — as a five-star recruit and the nation’s No. 7 overall prospect in his class. He’s also the top-rated point guard.

“It’s pretty cool and I’m excited about it,” Smart told the Cajun Redzone of his offers. “It’s motivation to keep working hard. I don’t know much about the schools yet. Now I’m going to look into them and see what they can offer me.”

This past season Smart made the Class 5A all-state first team and averaged 15.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game as Scotlandville (33-4) won its third state title in four years. He was MVP of the Class 5A title game after logging 18 points and nine rebounds in a win over Natchitoches Central and selected by MaxPreps.com as one of five Freshman All-Americans.

Despite playing up two age levels this spring, Smart is second on E.P. Elite in points per game (10.9) and assists per game (3.3) and tied for third in rebounds per game (3.8). He averaged 16 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in Houston and was impressive against All Ohio Red (18 points, three steals), Spiece Indy Heat (13 points, five assists) and Houston Hoops (25 points).

Hall of Fame basketball writer Frank Burlison included Smart among his 35 “All-Weekend” selections for the top players from all classes on the Houston EYBL stop. The long, talented playmaker received EYBL All-Houston honorable mention recognition from D1Circuit.com.

“Coaches tell me I play with a lot of confidence and poise and know how to run a team,” Smart said. “I’m able to score at all three levels and can play great defense.”

Smart is expected to attend the Adidas Nation Camp this weekend in Houston, but the bigger news to him was his invitation to the Nike Elite 100 Camp from June 11-15 in St. Louis.

“I’m really pumped about that,” Smart said. “To be one of the top 100 players to go there is a big deal. It’s a big opportunity for me. I’m going to play as hard as I can when I go there and keep trying to get better.”

In April, Smart was among 27 players age 16 and younger selected to participate in training camp for the 2015-16 USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team from May 28 to June 6 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Twelve of those players will compete for Team USA in the 2015 FIBA Americas Under-16 Championship from June 10-14 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina. The top four teams in that tournament will play in the FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

Back in October, Smart attended the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team mini-camp in Colorado Springs.

“It means a lot to get selected for training camp, but I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Smart said. “I want to keep getting better and improve.”

Smart also feels fortunate to have a connection with Orlando Magic guard Elfrid Payton, an all-state player at Ehret High in metro New Orleans and college standout at Louisiana before finishing fourth in this season’s NBA Rookie of the Year voting.

“He’s been a big help,” Smart said. “He comes to our practices and works out with us. I look up to him because he came from the same area I did and knows what it takes to make it where I want to be.”

When Smart does make his college choice, he said several factors will come into play for him.

“I want to play for a school that fits my style of play, that gets up and down the floor and plays at a fast pace,” he said. “I also want to play for a coach that gets on me and pushes me to get better because all of my coaches the past few years have been like that.”

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