DONTE SMITH, PG, 5'11, MT. SAN ANTONIO JC, CALIFORNIA:
When it comes to college basketball, many times some of the best players turn out to be little known players from small schools in high school or junior college. Sometimes they just need an opportunity to prove to the world what they can do, and that just might be the case for Donte Smith, who is now beginning to grab some attention after his first year at Mt. San Antonio Junior College. In fact, his story is one of the most interesting stories you will read about a top JUCO player this season.
"I averaged 23 points per game in high school, but the reason why I went JUCO was because the coach I was going to play for resigned the day I was going to sign," said Smith who attended high school at Diamond Ranch in Pomona, Calif. "I was all set to sign with Northern Colorado and the coach resigned one day before the end of the signing period. My high school coach told me that he had resigned and was moving on to another school. That coach never even called me to tell me he was leaving and my high school coach said he was not going to take me with him, so I called Mt Sac and I just went JUCO."
"Basically, I am short 0.23 from being a qualifier at a four-year school. That is not even a full grade," Smith continued. "So what every school is telling me is that they can sign a petition or waiver and get me into their school next year. If they sign a petition since I am just short 0.23 form high school, then I am told I can leave because the NCAA will grant me a waiver. So I plan on just playing one year at Mt. Sac and then moving on to a four-year school."
Smith is a protypical point guard for today's game because he can distribute as score, which is evident by a 37-point game towards the end of this season. As his season wore on at Mt. Sac and his team became a comedy of errors, he just went back to the old basketball motto that all of us hacks know and love: When I am open, I am shooting it.
"At the beginning of our season we had a stacked team," said Smith. "I don't really like to score. I like to pass the ball and make sure everybody is involved in the offense. We had the best player in the state in Rashon Norwood, but in the middle of the season he just up and left the team and when he did we had nobody left to score. My coach brought me to the side one day at practice and told me that he needed me to score because he knew that I could. So I just added that to my game. I averaged about 24 points per game and I had a 40-point game earlier in the season"
"At the beginning of the season I was averaging 10 assists a game, but then in the middle of the season my team went crazy," Smith continued. "At the end of the season, they got crazier as nobody could shoot, nobody could dribble and I was facing doubl teams every game. If it wasn't double teams, it was a box and one. I saw some crazy defenses trying to stop me. Teams were running triangle and two's against us, but we didn't have a two so it was the triangle and two and I was the one."
Smith has been offered by Arkansas, Fresno State and Idaho State, but the team he is really interested in is Oklahoma.
"Coach (Jeff) Capel is going to come and see me when his season is over," said Smith. "Oklahoma is a great environment to play basketball in. Oklahoma is my No. 1 right now. I don't really know Coach Capel yet, but I have talked to Coach (Mark) Cline, his assistant coach, and he is a great guy. He says Coach Capel is a really cool guy. I watch Oklahoma play on TV all the time. They need a point guard for sure, so I feel I can come in and help them."
The fact that OU is looking at add a legitimate point guard to the roster is a big reason why Smith has his eye on Oklahoma.
"If they had a legitimate point guard this year they would be ranked," said Smith. "They would be in the top 25. They played Kansas the other night and Kansas is ranked No. 3 in the country, and they lost by two. They did that and they really don't have a point guard there."
Smith says even if he has to stay at Mt. Sac he is going to redshirt next season to save a year of eligibility at the next level. However, he does not want to go through another year like the one he just went through.
"We had to forfeit 13 wins this year," said Smith. "Norwood, the No. 1 player in the state, did some crazy stuff so we had to forfeit 13 wins. Our head coach had to sit out half the conference season so everything was crazy. Hey we had to forfeit 13 wins or we would have been 18-8. Man, this has been quite an experience for me. I have never been through anything like this."
Smith hopes to get things worked out concerning his eligibility because he would love to visit Oklahoma.
"They have to get the waiver first, but they don't think that is going to be a problem," said Smith. "My mom talked to the NCAA and they said they didn't feel it would be any problem either. Once they get that waiver, I hope to visit there right away because Oklahoma is where I want to play."
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