Josh Smith at The Mission Prep Classic
Meet the country’s No. 1 junior big man.
Words by Justin Walsh
Basketball analysts aren’t afraid to throw around monikers like “man-beast,” “baby-Shaq,” and the overused phrase “he has a great motor.” Every time Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas throw those around the scouting reports, most basketball people roll their eyes and find reason to down on the kid. Don’t let that happen with Josh Smith.
Josh is huge. Right now he’s 6-10, 270 pounds, so he’s bigger than just about everybody he plays. Hell, in kindergarten, he was taller than his teacher—Smith was already 5-feet tall. Allow yourself to be immersed in the many “man amongst boys” lines that Brent Musburger shouts to the nation.
As a sophomore in high school, he was already solid in the stat sheet for his team. He averaged 21 points and 9.8 rebounds for Kentwood—he also scored that 21 per on 74 percent shooting. He already holds the Kentwood record for rebounds in a season and shooting percentage. He isn’t done yet. He wants to break the career scoring and rebound record held by Detroit Piston dynamo, Rodney Stuckey. Josh does have something going for him- more time.
Rewind the clocks back before even his sophomore season, to just before his freshman campaign. Smith’s father went to the Kentwood coach to ask where his kid would fit in. Coach Angelidis was notorious for not starting freshman. “In all my years of coaching, I have not started a freshman.”
Josh’s dad simply countered, “Okay, Coach, You might change your mind.” Six games into the season, Smith was starting. He hasn’t lost the job since. He was the only frosh on the All-Tournament team at State. At Washington, since age 14, he’s had an open invitation to sit right behind the Huskies bench to watch them play. He was on first name basis with Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar since age 15—even though his dad still corrects him. “Lorenzo, like you guys are buddy-buddy or something.” He’d say, shaking his head in amazement.
This is one of the few times you should listen to the likes of Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, even Bill Walton. Man-Beast. Baby-Shaq. Youngbuck demands the paint. To get him used to all the extra bodies in the paint, Kentwood runs a drill in practice where Josh has to seal a triple-team and get the ball. After that, he’s expected to dunk on them. Coach Angelidis is preparing him for NCAA domination. Josh Smith wants to be known as the big-man owning the paint, not just “the guy with the same name as that Hawk Airman.” For those unaware of the Kentwood Conquerers’ Josh Smith, allow him to introduce himself. His name is J-O-to-the-S-H, he’s known to dunk on face ’til the end days.