Josh Smith Names a Leader

The 6-9 center from Kent (Wash.) Kentwood, Josh Smith, the #4 junior in the nation who is one of UCLA's primary targets in the 2010 class, has been playing it pretty close to vest in terms of his recruiting -- until now. The huge post player actually names a leader this time when we spoke to him...

There's a lot of reasons to like Kent (Wash.) Kentwood junior center Josh Smith. Smith goes and gets 20 points a game, averages double-digit boards and his parents won't allow anything below a "B" in class.

What we may like the most about Smith is that he's a dinosaur. One of the only true centers in his class and an exceptionally good one to boot. At 6-feet-9 (maybe bigger), he's a load inside. Imagine what he would have looked like on the baseball diamond.

Back in the day, Smith played every position with the exception of catcher. "I didn't really like basketball but then I started playing (in middle school) and fell in love with it."

Smith could be been a Cecil Fielder in the box or Randy Johnson on the mound. Instead, he's a Shaq-like presence in the paint. He's good ( No. 4) and getting better.

"This is my best season so far," Smith said. "There's only one downfall. I'm shooting horrible from the free throw line. Last year I was 70 percent and now I'm 48 percent. I'm scoring and helping my teammates but I have to work on that. I've seen it on tape. Everything is fine but I have a tendency to lean back when I shoot free throws."

There are plenty of colleges coast to coast that would love to help him tackle his issues at the line. Smith's mother is a Washington graduate and his brother put on the football pads for the Huskies. His father was a junior college football player from the Lonestar State.

With the connections to UW, Smith says he hears the whispers around town. "Recently the Huskies have been doing real good. A lot of people want me to stay. I wouldn't mind being around friends and having mom and dad come but I don't see it as a pressure.

"If its in Seattle or Russia (my parents) said they'd make the effort to come see me play."

Surely he'll find suitable options outside of Siberia. UCLA, Washington and Louisville are his first tier of schools. "UCLA is probably first right now," Smith said. "They've made a good effort of coming when they have free days. After that it's UW and Louisville. After that everyone else is showing a lot of love but those are three leaders right now."

North Carolina, Duke, Texas, Georgetown, Connecticut, Tennessee, USC, Gonzaga, Kansas and Ohio State want him. A lot of the programs are outside of the West Coast, which begs the question: can he leave his time zone?

"(Colleges) ask me how I feel and I tell them I don't have a problem coming to the East Coast. A lot of people think I'm a shoe in for the West Coast but I've told Louisville, Georgetown, Kansas and Carolina that I have no problem."

Whether he strays from the West Coast or stays home, Smith's recruitment will be closely followed. He's a traditional big man, with grades, NBA talent and a resume of getting better every season.

The future is indeed bright.

Bruin Report Online Top Stories