April 20, 2012

Smith to fly with Eagles

Kevin McCarthy

Anyone signing with a coach by the name of Fang Mitchell receives an automatic spot for fearlessness in the Big Book of Basketball Liturgy and that's just what former Chico High star Sterling Smith has done.

photo of Sterling Smith

After finishing up a prep year in upstate New York at Redemption Christian Academy, Smith has signed a letter-of-intent with the Coppin State University Eagles of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. His 21 points, 10 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game averages this season grabbed the interest of Coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell and it soon became a mutual admiration society.

"I signed with Coppin State and Coach Mitchell because I felt it was the best place for me," Smith explained.

One point that aided his decision is that Coppin State is located in Baltimore, a city where Smith's grandfather and uncle reside.

Another aspect that aided in swaying Smith is the strong schedule the Eagles annually play. In the recently concluded season, Mitchell scheduled games with Connecticut, Oklahoma, Purdue and Illinois. For the 2012-13 season, Smith said Coppin State is either playing or trying to line up matchups with USC, Texas, Iowa, Duke and Syracuse.

Smith now stands at 6-foot-4 and a half and 200 pounds and he was able to add assets to his game this season because he no longer was the largest player on his squad. "I've extended my shooting range because I'm playing more of the two guard now that I'm no longer the tallest guy on the team like in high school. I've also improved my ballhandling because of being in the backcourt."

Smith also said that "five players are returning and eight departing [Coppin State] so I was told that I have a good chance at contributing right away." Mitchell has a well-earned reputation for getting his players overseas and a number of the graduating seniors are headed across the pond.

Backcourter Tony Gallo, who played two years at Cabrillo College in Aptos is one who is leaving and taking his 17.1 points per game but Smith was able to get in some scrimmaging with Gallo during his official visit. Frontcourter Logan Wiens, out of Merced High, scored 10.1 points per contest and has also completed his eligibility. Both were deluxe distance shooters.

He heads to Maryland in June for early classes. Smith is looking forward to majoring in forensic psychology.

The MEAC was won this season by Norfolk State which took down Missouri 86-84 in the opening round of the Big Dance and also includes Morgan State, a program headed by Todd Bozeman.

Smith concluded with, "I want to thank all of my coaches, my family and the media for being part of the long journey to where I am today."