MSJ’s Clatchey Has Easy Comparison For Smith

Comparisons are often good, if not for anything else than to give readers a visual of up-and-coming prospects, and possibly of what to expect in the future. Mount St. Joseph’s (Baltimore, Md.) head coach Pat Clatchey doesn’t have to look far for his for talented 6-foot-7.5 MSJ freshman big-man Jalen Smith.

Comparisons are often good, if not for anything else than to give readers a visual of up-and-coming prospects, and possibly of what to expect in the future.

Mount St. Joseph’s (Baltimore, Md.) head coach Pat Clatchey doesn’t have to look far for his for talented 6-foot-7.5 MSJ freshman big-man Jalen Smith.

“Well, that’s an easy comparison for me personally,” Clatchey said. “A lot of people ask me to compare him to Henry Simms.”

Simms also arrived at MSJ as a gangly freshman, starred for Clatchey, went on to Georgetown, and is now with the Philadelphia 76’ers of the NBA.

“There are definitely some similarities, but I actually think Jalen at this time is much more athletic and more skilled at the same stage as Henry was,” Clatchey said.

Simms grew to 6-11, while Smith projects more to the 6-9 range.

“Jalen has some areas where I think he is ahead of Henry at the same stage,” Clatchey added. “Now Henry, obviously, is a guy that has played in the NBA, so….but it’s good for Jalen to see that, a guy who was kinda similar to me is playing in the NBA.”

Smith averaged 8 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists per game this year in his first season as a starter. He became a starter six games in of Mt. St. Joe’s 19-13 season with an underclassman corps leading the way during a transitional year.

“He is a willing and able passer, and I think he is a guy who will look for the open man, find the open man, make the right play, which is rare for someone that young. That is a trait and characteristic to be excited about,” Clatchey said.

“And I did pretty much throw him into the fire,” Clatchey added. “He’s only 14 years old, he was not held back or reclassified, so considering the circumstances, he learned a lot and proved himself and more than held his own.”

Clatchey likes Smith’s versatile game, his athleticism, touch and his timing “and he can score facing the basket, score some back to the basket, and he can run the floor. Looking down the road, his game is going to be one of versatility,” Clatchey said.

Clatchey also likes Smith’s ability to defend both the perimeter and the interior, with both his length and his burst.

On the other side, Clatchey says as with any young talent, Smith has to work on all aspects of his game still.

“But the one thing that we have been very impressed with his being able to accept coaching, working very hard, striving to become a complete player,” Clatchey said.

Clatchey has told Smith to look at some NBA players who may have had similar body types at his age, and how they play, notably Anthony Davis and Lamarcus Aldridge.

“And Davis, is on the verge of….he will be the next great player of the NBA. A guy like Aldridge, he is long, athletic, face-up skills. So look at those guys, how they play, what they do to get open and things like that,” Clatchey said.

Smith may have had his best all-around game this season versus St. Frances in his first start, with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 6 blocks. He had a season game-high of 15 points, and a season game-high of 12 boards.

Clatchey said that among others, Maryland, Miami, VCU, Richmond, Virginia, West Virginia, etc., have all come in to see him at games and open gyms. Maryland has been his only campus unofficial, which the family took three weeks ago on a Friday for a tour and meeting with staff and players.

“It’s sort of like, and I am not trying to be funny, but I would compare that to maybe to your first kiss,” Clatchey said. “That was his first college visit where the coaches showed him and his parents the facilities and talked about the academic and the athletic side of it. And Maryland obviously having a terrific season this year, first year in the Big Ten, NCAA-bound, I think that has gotten a lot of people’s attention. I think people are....Maryland is back in the conversation, people are excited about this season and what could hopefully be the norm from now on.”

“And from all indications, they were very, very appreciative, and very, very impressed,” Clatchey added.

Clatchey calls Smith “a normal, grounded, typical kid. Certainly very respectful, a polite kid. And a very good student. The parents have really pushed him reaching his potential academically, which he does. So just a typical teenager who just happens to be tall and a pretty darn good basketball player."

Always working, Smith was back on the AAU trail at an event in Virginia this past weekend. When TT scouted him this regular season, we liked his relentless work on the blocks, despite giving up 40-50 pounds to some bigs, as well as his vision and feel for just a freshman pup.

And then there’s the family angle, where his pops doesn’t tell son Jalen of college calls and inquiries, as he doesn’t want him to get a big head, Smith said.

“Jalen and his family, they are just really good people,” Clatchey said. “I think they get it, they understand it, and I think they will do a great job of keeping him grounded and humble and hungry and keeping things in perspective.”

TerrapinTimes Top Stories