Mr. Smith is going to Seattle

Joel Smith, a 6-5, 208-pound SG/SF from Lompoc, California and currently attending Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, has made a verbal commitment to play basketball for Lorenzo Romar and the University of Washington. Joel chose the Huskies over interest from Boston College, Pitt, Marquette, Ohio State, Providence, DePaul, California, Stanford and USC. was able to reach his father, Joe, at home in Lompoc Thursday afternoon for his thoughts on his son's decision.

"It's accurate," Smith said when asked about Joel's decision to attend Washington. "We took an unofficial trip up there a couple of weeks ago and things went well. For myself and my wife, we were looking to get Joel into a place that would stress academics, and both Coach Romar and Coach (Cameron) Dollar were really preaching the academics. They were really sincere about dealing with the individual as a student first before looking at him as a player on the court. That set well with me."

But don't dismiss the basketball part of Joel's life. That's a big part of why Washington went hard after him. At Brewster last season, Joel averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. "First and foremost, he's a team player," Joel's father said. "He wants to win the game above anything else, and will do whatever it takes."

The elder Smith was not satisfied with Joel's academics during his time at Lompoc High School, and knew he needed to remedy the situation. That's when he found out about Brewster. "Joel needed to be ready for the rigors of what the academic world would bring about and we didn't feel he was ready. Then we found out about the prep school option and how that could help him. We felt that by having Joel go to Brewster, it would better prepare him for college life."

And the 2002-2003 academic year at Brewster was just what the doctor ordered. "It really awakened him to what he needed to do to be in a better position academically," Smith said. "At a prep school, there's a lot more discipline, a lot more structure than at a normal school.

"Also, it gave him another year to mature physically. The league he plays in right now (New England Prep School Athletic Conference) is one of the toughest in the country."

Joe also credits Joel's participation with the LA Rockfish in the summer AAU league for helping to sharpen his son's all-around game. "This summer will be his third year with them, and playing for them has helped Joel tremendously," Smith said. "Playing in the AAU leagues is a step up from high schools because the competition is so good. It's almost like college."

Even though Joel will be going back to Brewster this fall to complete his high school education, the west coast is where he longs to be. "He wants to play in the Pac-10," Joe said. "And Washington was the best situation for him. At the other schools, like California, Stanford, USC, Oregon - there were other players at his position. At Washington there aren't that many."

So does Joe see Joel as more of a slashing guard that can post up because of his size, or more of a smaller forward that can do a lot of different things? "Well, that's another reason he likes Washington so much," Joe said. "They didn't recruit him as a 2,3,4. They recruited him as a complete player, someone that could play anywhere on the floor.

"That appealed to me and Joel." Top Stories