Interview with Latta's Coach Smith

<i>IC</i>'s David Thompson spoke with Latta (SC) High head coach Stephen Smith -- the coach of committed UNC recruit Raymond Felton.

Inside Carolina: How'd it go during your scrimmages with Georgetown High School (SC) and St. Johns High School (SC) on 11/7?

Coach Stephen Smith: That was, of course, our first scrimmage. We split two quarters [outscoring them] with St. Johns, that's a team from Charleston—they played a lot of players. Georgetown is a 3A school and we beat them 2 quarters to one. Didn't get to play as much as we wanted—didn't get in there (Georgetown, SC) until late.

And the way it went on the court, Raymond played a good floor game. We didn't keep stats. The bulk of his points came from drives and layups, reverse layups, and offensive rebounds. He was hitting the boards like a 6-8 guy.

IC: What kind of job did he do defensively?

Smith: Defensively, he did a great job. The whole team did well. We limited opponents to about 8-9 points per quarter. Except that our offense wasn't clicking like we would like for it to be. And Raymond in particular, he had to go to drives, offensive rebounds, and posting up to get his points off. His 3-pointer wasn't falling like it normally does.

IC: Has your team set goals for this year?

Smith: Well, our ultimate goal is to get back [to the state championship]. When you taste that once, anything less would be a disappointment. That's the ultimate goal. Then, realistically, we lost some good players. Raymond is the best player in the state by far and we have some players otherwise, but we don't have height. I thought we were small last year, but we are small this year! Raymond is an inch shorter than the tallest—6-1. One of the players is 6-3 but he didn't play much at all last year and he probably won't play much this year. Raymond is the tallest regular player.

IC: Have you seen improvements in Raymond's play over the summer?

Smith: Yes. He's on another level! He was top notch before the summer, but—his strength. He always took it inside before. When he goes in there now, going after a rebound, he basically just goes and attacks the boards. His rebounding and his inside play is as strong as any big man we're going to see. He's going to have to defend some of the big guys on other teams. It's basically a situation where, we don't want to wear him out because he does so much otherwise. He's still human…

IC: What type of size will you be facing this year?

Smith: St. Johns is a 1A school, like us. They had 3 guys 6-5 or better. It's the thing here where we just don't have them big at Latta. He will go up against guys bigger than him and hold his own.

IC: What part of Raymond's game are you working on the most?

Smith : We're trying to get his shot more consistent. We've seen Raymond hit 12 threes in a game—10 in a row. But he's kind of like a rhythm shooter. We want him to be more of a consistent 3-point shooter. When he hits that three, he has the potential to average 40 points/game, if he can score that well and in other ways on the court.

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