Smith talks about signing with UW

Joel Smith is a happy man. Monday morning he sent in his letter of intent to play basketball for the University of Washington, and now he can get back to what he's been doing for the past year - playing hoops and preparing for entrance into college. A few years ago, it wasn't always that way.

"I'm very confident," Joel told after sending in his letter Monday morning. "My grades are doing very well. I'm 100 percent positive that I'm going to make it. I'm going to get where I need to be. I've gone this far. I'm not going back."

Smith is from Lompoc, California, and he made the difficult decision to leave Lompoc and attend Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. The move changed his life.

"It was definitely different at first," he said. "My sister goes to school in Massachusetts, so I thought it would be a good idea to go back there. But then I was like, 'It's on the east coast, how is it really going to be?', but it's been the best fit for me.

"There are nice people here and they've really helped me prepare for school. I can't tell you how much they've helped me. I'm so glad I came here."

As a junior, Joel averaged around 15 points, 6 rebounds and an assist at Brewster. He's looking for bigger and better things as a senior. "We start our season this weekend in Delaware," said Smith. "We're pretty team-oriented this season, more than as individuals. That's a plus."

Any goals he's set for himself this season? "I just want to get to college, get an education and play as long as I can," Joel said.

He decided back in July that the University of Washington was the college he had in mind. He had an offer from Cincinnati, but spurned the Bearcats to be a Husky. Joel was also receiving heavy interest from USC, California, Wake Forest, Boston College and Marquette.

"When I was being recruited, Coach (Cameron) Dollar was always the one recruiting me the most," said Smith. "He called every time he had the chance and they sent a lot of mail and personal stuff. I got a relationship started with them and talked with them for a long time. They seemed like really good people and the program is up and coming.

"They were the first place I wanted to check out, and when I went there everything was perfect. Everything just fell into place."

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