Last year the Panthers of North Central won the Indiana 4A state title, and with the core of their team returning many felt they were the favorites to repeat going into the season. Now, however, Smith-Rivera says that North Central will have to find the same chemistry on the floor that they had last season.
"It's been tough, but at the same time the type of offense that we run you have to find that in-between," said Smith-Rivera. "That is what we are trying to get to. Last year when we won state we had that flow and chemistry offensively. I think that is what we are trying to find right now going into the tournament."
It won't be an easy road for North Central and company as they start off the tournament with a date against Indiana commitment Ron Patterson and his Indianapolis Broad Ripple team.
"Any team you draw is tough in our sectional," said Smith-Rivera. "We are the defending state champs so we have a target on our back, and we just have to come out ready to play."
The offer from UCLA was one that Smith-Rivera saw coming, and one that has him interested.
"Their coach has been out here a few times to see me and he had been in contact so I knew they liked me quite a bit," said Smith-Rivera of UCLA. "They are a great school with great tradition so I was happy they offered me."
Though Smith-Rivera de-committed from Xavier, he says that the Musketeers are still firmly in the mix for his services going forward.
"Most definitely I am still very interested in Xavier," he said. "They are still right there at the top with all the other schools."
For now Smith-Rivera and his family are just sorting through everything, and have put no timeline on a final decision.
"It's been pretty hectic, but that is what it is about," said Smith-Rivera. "The longer this goes the tougher the decision is. I am just going to weigh my options as best that I can."