Brandon Smith talks about senior season and future

Brandon Smith, a 6-5 shooting guard/small forward, signed with Minnesota in the early signing period. However, the Minneapolis (MN) Patrick Henry standout played just three games this season before leaving the Patriots after a disagreement with head coach Larry McKenzie. College Basketball News caught up with Smith during the Henry-Minneapolis North game to find the latest on his playing situation for the rest of the season.

Brandon Smith picked Minnesota over Marquette, Oklahoma (where former Henry standouts Lawrence McKenzie and Johnnie Gilbert play). Smith, who is considered by many as the top senior in the state of Minnesota, averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game last season as the Patriots finished 21-8, losing to Armstrong in the Section 5AAAA finals after winning three straight state titles. He is an excellent student with a 3.8 GPA and plans to major in business in college. Smith played at the ABCD camp and played AAU ball as a member of Team Minnesota. He told College Basketball News at halftime of the Henry-North game that he will not play this season. Minnesota High School League rules would require him to sit out 14 games as a transfer, which would force him to miss most of his senior campaign.
It must be tough as a competitive player like yourself to watch a game like this and not be able to play?
"It's really hard. But, right now, I'm excited about the game. Even though I'm not playing, I still love the game and liked watching it. It's hard, but it is something that I have to deal with. It is really frustrating not being able to play.This is what I loved to do, to play in a packed house in a big rivalry game. It's real hard."
There was talk about you transferring to Champlin Park, the school district where you live. You said that it would be tough to sit out 14 games to only be able to play four regular-season games, especially to join at team that has gotten off to a 9-2 start.
"It all goes to what I'm comfortable at and what I am used to right now and that is Henry High. I've been there for four years. I love the school and it would be tough to leave there to play only a few games."
There had been some talk about you rejoining Henry. You said that you would not play this season, but did you talk to Coach McKenzie?
"I apologized. I apologized to him (coach McKenzie) to be the bigger man. I felt that to be mature and learn about myself, that I should apologize and that is what I did. Right now, I'm not looking forward to coming back. I'm focusing on the University of Minnesota right now."
What has your thought of the Gophers been so far? They have surprised most observers with their strong play.
"I think that the team has been doing great. They have a lot of potential. They are learning as they go and they are playing more as a team now. I love it. It is exciting to watch them and I can't wait to get there."
You are good friends with James Davis, who is also sitting out the season. Have you talked much about playing next season with the Gophers?
"We are really focused right now. We can't wait to get there, so it will be great to be there together. We know each other and have such great chemistry. We're excited."
Did you and James talk about this game, since he is a North grad?
"We talked a little about it. Of course, he is going for North. I really don't have a side right now. I'm just watching the game."
What have you been doing to work on your game? 
"I'm working on lifting weights and working on my jump shot. Trying to get stronger and faster to be ready for college."

Gopher Illustrated Top Stories