Smith takes it all in stride

Recently, Kentwood (Kent, Wa.) C Josh Smith was rated the number two center in the country by and he also ranks in the top five 2010 basketball prospects in the country. He and his Seattle Rotary teammates recently faced off against the Northwest Legends and he talked about that matchup, some travel plans in the near future and he even dispelled some rumors floating around.

"This year I have a target on my back because with the rankings I'm a five-star on and I'm supposed to be in the top five and I feel like I have to prove to people why I'm ranked where I am that's pretty much it," Smith said when asked about being the focal point of opponents. "People actually know who I am already, so every game I play I know that if they see me and if I don't perform then they'll say ‘ah, he ain't that good' so now I'm just working hard every game to show people what I've got."

One player who came away unimpressed with the big man from Kent was Abdul Gaddy who hails from Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma).

"Josh is just another player to me," Gaddy told's Kim Grinolds after the Adidas Rose City Showcase last month. "I've seen a million players like him. You travel to the East Coast and there's five of him on a team. He's a big dude, and since he's from the Pacific Northwest there's only one of him."

Smith took the criticism in stride.

"I don't really care and he can say whatever he wants," Smith said with a smirk. "It's his opinion. It's not going to hurt me. We're both good players and we'll just play the game. I'm not going to say ‘there's a million of him on the east coast', it's just about playing the game.

"We played (Northwest Legends) in Portland and we beat them. They come with a new guy every time and they are always talking smack telling us we got lucky last time, so every time we play them it's about showing them it doesn't matter who they bring in, we'll still beat them."

Smith and his teammates will be wracking up the frequent flyer miles over the next few weeks as he has trips to several U.S. cities and to a foreign country on their schedule.

"We're going to Las Vegas and then Brazil with Adidas Nation, so we'll go down there and then we'll go to Dallas," Smith said. "I'll have an aisle seat to Brazil so it won't be so bad, but on one trip back east I had a window seat and I asked an older lady if I could have the aisle because of my legs and she said ‘nope, sorry'.

"The guy next to me was really cool and he was trying to give me as much room as possible, but the guy in front of me was getting ticked because he was trying to put his seat back and I was like ‘sorry man, you can't be leaning that back'."

Rumors fly with big-time recruits like Smith, but he also was able to take that in stride.

"I heard that I had committed to UCLA secretly, but no, I haven't committed to anyone," Smith said with a chuckle. "I'm also not transferring to (Rainier) Beach, I'm still at Kentwood.

"I'm open to all the schools I'm being recruited by, so no, I haven't committed anywhere and I'm still undecided."

Recruiting for Smith is still in its infancy, so the big man better get ready for more trash talk from opponents and more rumors to fly, but when you have a good head on your shoulders like Smith does, it's easier to just let the process play itself out.

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