Smith proving it every day spoke Friday morning with Brewster (NH) Academy head basketball coach Jason Smith, who talked about Joel Smith's nomination for the McDonald's All-American team, as well as how the Washington signee has performed his senior year as a Bobcat.

"First of all he's a tremendous leader," Smith said. "Character-wise and leadership-wise, he's without peer. He's a tremendous young man. He's having an outstanding year, averaging around 17 points a game. He's doing such a good job and it's been such a big advantage because he already played in a class A prep school league (New England Prep School Athletic Council), so he already knew what to expect. He's an explosive athlete and is defending really well."

Brewster nominated six players for the McDonald's All-American team, which has since been announced. Smith didn't make the final cut, but Coach Smith is adamant that Joel deserves all the regional and national recognition he can get.

"Well, I still believe that he's very much a top-100 player nationally," Jason said. "Since he's a fourth-year senior, he's a year ahead of the group that most recruiting services rank. The only service out there that ranks those kind of players is Hoop Scoop, and they've got him as a top-30 player in the country."

And a big reason for Joel's development is not only the league he's playing in, but also his teammates. He's playing with some of the best talent in New England. "We're really lucky here in that we've got two of the top wing players in the country," Smith said. "We've got Joel, but we've also got Adrian Joseph, a 6-7 guy that's headed to Virginia. And the scary thing is that both of those guys are better people than players. Both really push each other and are similar in a number of ways. Both are left-handed, both can shoot, rebound, put the ball on the floor and defend.

"And in every game we play, there's a minimum of five Division-1 players on the other team. Joel has gone up against the likes of Robert Vaden, who is going to Indiana, and also Derrell Wright, who many think might end up being a lottery pick. Night in and night out, I would say the level of competition we go up against is very similar to being in a mid-major."

So what was it about the Huskies' situation that appealed to Joel? "Obviously, since he's a native of California, his main objective was to get back west and play in the Pac-10, and while Washington may not have been the first Pac-10 team to talk to him, they were the first ones that turned up their interest and were really upfront and honest with him," Jason said. "Coach (Cameron) Dollar was the main coach recruiting him, but Coach (Lorenzo) Romar was also there and every one of their coaches has been on campus at one time or another."

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