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March 13, 2013
Basil Smotherman came into his senior season at Lawrence North just looking to prove himself.
After a junior season at Lawrence North - his first year at the school after he spent his first two seasons at Heritage Christian - that the Purdue signee wasn't satisfied with, that was the goal, to legitimize himself as one of the top players in the state and a worthy Big Ten recruit.
This season, the 6-foot-7, 220-pounder accomplished his goal.
Left off last summer's 18-man Indiana junior all-star team, Smotherman put forth a senior season certainly worthy of a spot on the Indiana All-Star Team.
"I pretty much thought I could be the player I want to be and I feel you always have to prove yourself and prove people wrong," Smotherman said. "I was proving to myself that I can score, I can do this, I can do that, I can do all this stuff and that's what you have to do to make it to the next level. ... I just kept saying, 'Keep doing what you're doing, you're doing it right, don't drop off and you're going in the right direction,' and I just kept doing it.
"Some fan after the Purdue-Iowa game (in West Lafayette) told me, 'Hey, you're Basil Smotherman, don't make Purdue your last stop.' So people are seeing that I am proving myself and can play with everybody else, so I use that as motivation and just kept going and it kept paying off."
Athleticism has never been an issue for Smotherman, nor have skills necessarily.
But during a senior season in which he averaged 18 points and nine rebounds and shot 51 percent (according to Lawrence North), Smotherman's biggest jump, rather, came in effort and consistency, he said.
"It was my effort and hustle and me showing my passion for the game," Smotherman said. "That's what Coach (Jack) Keefer talked to me about this year. People told him that I don't show heart, that people thought I was lazy, so I took that to heart and I just started going out and practicing and playing hard.
"The second thing was my will to score. I had to score more for our team to win and that is what he told me, 'This team goes when you go and if you want to go far, then you have to do what you are going to do.' I couldn't just leave and go out my senior year regretting anything. I had to leave it all out on the floor.
"It was the work I put in (that made the difference). I had to work every day, getting up shots before school, after school shooting with my friends and teammates, going to the gym with my dad on Saturdays and working out. You have to keep working, because you aren't going to just wake up one day and be an all-star, you aren't going to be the greatest player in the world. You just have to keep working and that is what I did coming into the season, just keep working and working."
Given what Purdue will demand of Smotherman next season, it's only just the beginning.
"That is what I have to keep doing when I get to Purdue, because Coach (Matt) Painter said he needs more guys like Rapheal Davis," Smotherman said, "and I feel like Bryson, Kendall, and I, when we get there, we can help turn the program around with the guys there like Terone, Ronnie, A.J. (Hammons) and everybody.
"We're always in the gym. We're gym rats. My dad keeps telling me that something is going to change. Purdue is not going to have a season like they did this year. They are going to win more games next year. We're going to have to come in here and pick it up and just keep working every day when we get to Purdue and just keep showing Coach Painter this is the recruiting class he wanted, and show Purdue fans we're back and we are going to be on top of the world and we are going to try to bring a national championship to Mackey."
In Smotherman, Purdue is getting an outstanding athlete its coaches believe can be a very good defensive player, for one thing.
The left-hander has always been effective scoring in transition and driving to the basket, but also consistently made jump shots as a senior, whether they were mid-range shots, turnarounds out of post-ups or threes, on which he shot 34 percent.
He'll probably project as a 4 man, but could also very easily play on the wing, with the capability to guard multiple positions.
Part of Smotherman's turnaround late in his high school career is directly linked to his physical maturation. Since he committed to Purdue as a sophomore standing about 6-4 and weighing maybe 190 pounds, Smotherman has bloomed into a 6-7, 225-or-so-pound specimen, a first-man-off-the-bus sort of body type Purdue's not had many of lately.
As he's gotten stronger, he's become more aggressive, two things that often go hand in hand.
Part of that was simply Smotherman's body developing, but part of it was also his work, he says, with Lawrence North strength coach Carol Happ, formerly on the strength and conditioning staff at the University of Minnesota.
"I give her a lot of credit," Smotherman said, "because it always helps when you have a weight trainer from the Big Ten and see what they dealt with. She told me the right things, showed me the right workouts, I am just trying to work with her and get bigger now that the season is over and work out to become a wing/guard in the Big Ten and hold my own."
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