Smith chooses L'Ville over Tennessee

The Louisville women's basketball program had never signed a McDonald's All-American until landing Sara Hammond last fall. Wednesday, Jeff Walz reeled in his second McDonald's All-American in the Class of 2011, beating out Virginia, Tennessee and Oklahoma for nationally-ranked point guard Bria Smith.

Louisville women's basketball coach Jeff Walz is celebrating this afternoon.

That's because Bria Smith, one of the nation's Top 10 recruits, announced her decision Wednesday to attend Louisville next year, spurning perennial national power Tennessee, Virginia, and Oklahoma.

Smith, a 5-foot-8 point guard who is rated as the No. 8 player nationally by ESPN.com, originally signed with Virginia, but was granted a release from her letter of intent after Hall of Fame coach Debbie Ryan retired this spring.

After making visits to Louisville and Tennessee, Smith, a McDonald's All-American from Middle Village (NY) Christ the King, announced her decision to play for Jeff Walz during a press conference at her school Wednesday afternoon.

"The help from my family was pretty much why I chose them," Smith told ESPN HoopGurlz. "I had a lot of support from my coaches and family this time around and I am glad that they will be close enough to see me play. It will allow them to see a lot of games since I will be playing in the Big East."

Prior to landing Sara Hammond last fall, the Louisville women's basketball program had never signed a McDonald's All-American. Now, Walz has added his second Burger Girl in the 2011 recruiting class.

In Smith, Walz finally found the point guard he has long sought for his program. The New York girls Player of the Year according to the Daily News, Smith fought through double-teams and knee problems to average 21.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists this past season.

According to the Daily News, Smith was chosen Player of the Year because of, "her relentless game - diving for loose balls, lowering her shoulder and driving through the teeth of the defense."

Smith could form one of the nation's most exciting backcourt tandems next season with Shoni Schimmel. Schimmel, an All-Big East freshman selection, averaged 15.1 points and 4.9 assists, while helping guide the Cardinals to the NCAA Sweet 16 this season before falling to Gonzaga. The Cards, who return most of their key players next season, in addition to adding Smith and Hammond, the No. 12 prospect in the nation, should start the 2011-12 season ranked in the Top 10.


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