Exhibition: Wilson Jamboree
Latta 54, South Florence 24
2001-2002 Latta Schedule)
(Preseason games last two quarters)
Points: 18 FG: 7-10 3-pt FG: 4-5 FT: 0-0 Rebounds: 7 (2 off.) Assists: 6 Turnovers: 1 Blocks: 2 Steals: 3
Interview with Latta H.S. Head Coach Stephen Smith
Inside Carolina: How was the game against South Florence the other night?
Coach Stephen Smith: We looked a whole lot better. It was a "jamboree" where we play two quarters. This was against South Florence High School (SC), which is a 4A school and we won 54-24.
I thought that, overall as a team, we looked totally different and much better than we did the week before. Coming off another extra week of practice, I think that did us a lot of good.
The defense was clicking, as in mid-season form. Offensively we shot the ball very, very well. In addition to Raymond scoring 18 points, we had 4 or 5 other 3-pointers. We had another kid, Adrian Harrison, who also had 4 3-pointers and shot the ball extremely well.
I didn't really know what to expect. Like I said, we have a very small team but those kids have very big hearts. With Raymond's leadership, kids come to play. He makes the kids play.
The other team's tallest player was around 6-7. They had another kid about 6-5 and another kid about 6-3. So they were a decent-sized high school team.
Defense was, basically, where I thought we made the most improvement. I would say Raymond was the leader of the defense. They had a kid who supposedly was an up-and-coming guard—a sophomore. I don't know his name but he went up against Raymond this summer and played some AAU ball. [Raymond] took everything he wanted to do away.
IC: How did Raymond do in the game?
Smith: Raymond was "typical Raymond" on Tuesday night! He shot the ball extremely well, played tremendous defense, rebounded—rebounding is something that we're going to lack this year, with our lack of size. We're going to need to focus on it this year and Raymond was able to fill that void. He played an entire floor game.
Raymond didn't go to the line—it wasn't like he didn't go inside but they didn't call it. Raymond was 3 of 5 from 2-point [range] and was fouled on couple of them that they should have called. The ones he missed, he got fouled on but…
IC: You were in Columbia yesterday for a banquet. Tell us about that.
Smith: We were in Columbia in honor of the top teams from each classification, boys and girls. And we were fortunate enough, or honored to be, number 1 again. They also honored the top 5 players, boys and girls, and Raymond obviously is one of those, if not the best. It was a preseason, tip-off type of thing and it was put on by the South Carolina Coaches Association at Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC.
IC: There have been lots of "reports" over the past few months about Raymond considering other schools, even after his verbal to UNC. Can you comment on that?
Smith: The only thing I maintain is this—the thing I've stated all along is that I would tell any media personnel what Raymond has confided in me. I was at the press conference when he committed to North Carolina verbally and he has also confided in me that he would sign with North Carolina, pretty much every time we talked about the issue the last 6 months. There have been rumors that he was leaning toward South Carolina or wavering in his decision with North Carolina. The only thing I can comment on is that he has always stated to me that he is going to North Carolina.
I have no comment on what a particular reporter says. The only thing I can say is that he has said he is going to North Carolina when he talks to me and I'm going to support him wherever he goes and he's said North Carolina is the school.
IC: Coach, are there any plans for Raymond's verbal tomorrow?
Smith: The plans are in the works. There will be a press conference at 3:15 p.m. on Friday in the gym at Latta High School, or either at the library at the school. It is at the school and he is supposed to sign his letter of intent to UNC. Basically, the press will cover it and put it on TV. The team will be there because we have a luncheon right afterwards.