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Player Spotlight

Smith commits to the Fighting Illini

Alexis Smith Gold Star Elite’s #1 ranked senior has made a decision to play basketball in the Big Ten Conference for the University of Illinois.  Alexis is the third player from St. John the Baptist HS this year to commit to a Division I school (Kamala Thompson to Dartmouth College and Allysia Rohlehr to the Univ. of Albany) this season.

Alexis spent the summer playing AAU basketball with NYC Exodus where she was able to showcase her talents in major exposure events.  She was able to narrow down her college choices to George Washington, Middle Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington and James Madison University before choosing the Fighting Illini.

SJB Floor General Making Noise
Jay Mumford

When St. John The Baptist PG Alexis Smith speaks, the amiable and somewhat soft spoken junior doesn‘t seem all that menacing. But when she takes the floor, her giggle is replaced with her growl.

“Alexis is a beast”, said skills trainer Jerry Powell, a man whose tough reputation precedes him. “She’s always here training, and she works extremely hard on a daily basis.” The hard work has paid off, and the 5’9 Smith’s mean streak has earned her a rep as one of the toughest guards and defenders on the peninsula. “She’s one of the best on the ball defenders I’ve ever trained”, revealed Powell. Smith’s numerous cameos in the passing lanes have made her a defensive juggernaut, and her 5 steals per game is proof that she’s a menace for those who aren’t careful with the rock.

“The thing that first strikes you about Alexis is how she came onto our state championship team as a freshman and knocked starters out of the rotation”, said SJB Head Coach Ted Oberg. “She did that with her defensive ability. She’s got long arms and she’s strong.”  Playing bigger and tougher than her off court demeanor and actual height suggest, Smith also does big damage on the other side of the ball with prime time court vision. Her ESP with her point forward teammate, Kamala Thompson, has earned the duo liberal numbers of assists and given Smith another stripe as the crafty play maker and passer. Her aggressiveness also allows her to get to the hoop, and her arsenal of floaters and drives has made her a lock for 11.6 PPG. “She goes to the hole strong, with a lot of authority.”

Smith’s skill sets haven’t gone unnoticed, and she’s piqued the interest of an impressive list of schools. Florida, St. Johns, Virginia, Cincinnati and Rutgers have all entered the recruiting process, but the Medford native hasn’t let her dogged gym rat work ethic fall by the wayside with the influx attention.

“ I’m definitely have to improve my outside shot and pull-up jumper”, Smith admitted. “I’m training with Jerry Powell and I’m playing AAU with Exodus NYC.” In the meantime, Smith hopes to get the Lady Cougars of SJB a long post-season run after bowing out to St. Peter’s in the state semi-finals last year. She’s also making her quick adjustment back into the flow of things after missing the first seven games of the season with an ankle injury.

“The ankle is definitely getting better”, she said. “Its fine now,  just want to go all the way this year.”




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