In the Seattle area’s rise to prominence as a hotbed for basketball talent, it’s been mostly PG’s (Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey), twos (Brandon Roy, Jamal Crawford) and wings (Martell Webster, Marvin Williams) who have put the city on the map. All due respect to Spencer Hawes, but so far the list of big men hasn’t been that impressive — which is where Josh Smith enters the discussion.
A senior at Kentwood H.S. (Stuckey’s alma mater), Smith stands 6-10, 270, and is widely considered the best prep center in America. Last season he put up 26 points, 16 boards and four blocks per game, hitting 74% of his shots from the field and making All-State.
Smith recently signed with UCLA, ending what had been a hectic recruiting process and giving Bruins fans a reason to keep hope alive despite this season’s struggles.
High School Hoop’s Jason Jordan got up with Smith this week to talk recruiting and UCLA. Here’s an excerpt:
HighSchoolHoop: How has life changed since you officially signed with the Bruins?
Josh Smith: Well, it’s changed a lot since the eighth grade when I started getting recruited. It was fun at first, then it started to get hectic and kinda predictable. That’s why I got it out of the way now before basketball season started. I couldn’t go through this stuff all season.
HSH: What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
JS: A lot of times when I would be hanging out with my friends I’d get a call from someone wanting to know where I was going. Sometimes I’d be at a movie and a coach or a scouting service would call wanting to know if I’d cut my list or if I’d decided. It was really annoying. Things are a lot better now. I can just go hang out with friends and basically be a regular kid.
HSH: Does it bother you to hear fans and experts basically call [UCLA] garbage?
JS: Not at all. A lot of teams go through rebuilding years. You can’t be good all the time. I understand that this isn’t a traditional UCLA team. I wasn’t expecting them to win the national title and go undefeated. I’m proud that I picked the school. I still tell people to wait and see what they do when conference play starts.