October 1, 2016

Smith blowing up at Feather River

Kevin McCarthy

Smart and successful are elements that seem to go hand-in-hand. But intelligence in and of itself is no guarantee of achievement. Life can get in the way as circumstances may impede access to the building blocks we all require in order to advance. 6-foot-7 Feather River College (FRC) sophomore Anthony Smith, knows about advancement as well as its flip side. He has lived both.

photo of Anthony Smith

Smith averaged 18.6 points and 8.4 rebounds up in Quincy for Coach Randy Rick in the 2015-16 season, Smith's initial season of organized basketball.

Yes, Smith never played prep hoops at any of the high schools he attended. His prior time on the court was either in pickup games or with the Ground-Up AAU travel team. "I grew up in tough parts of Sacramento where a lot of people don't make it -- they either end up in jail or dead," he recalled. Life was more about the day-to-day than the long term -- a heavy load for any teenager. It required a special level of endurance as well as resilience which, curiously enough, is also what's needed when working towards a goal off in the distance.

"I was always around it but I had to find a way out and basketball led me into GroundUp and Don (Don Manning-Fuimaono), Jordan (Webster), and Shaun (Manning). Those three guys saved my life and gave me the tools and knowledge to become successful."

On the court, "Anthony has great ability and potential with no ceiling," Rick said. "He's strong and can jump out of the gym, one of the greatest athletes I've ever seen. He has a high motor and plays hard, something which really excites the college coaches who have watched him." That being West Virginia, Texas Christian, UNLV, Utah State and a number of others in pursuit. It sounds like Smith could actually be an Oympic decathalon competitor if he was so inclined.

In the classroom, Smith earned a 3.3 grade point average and achieved honor roll status. He's looking to major in business.

So why Feather River College in Quincy, a town of less than 8,000 up in the mountains? "I chose Feather River for the environment," Smith explained. "It's a perfect school to handle my business with my education and remain focused on basketball. Plus, I have a lot of support and love from the teachers to the people in town. It benefited me all the way around with my academics, basketball, and character. Every area has improved tremendously."

According to Rick, "At FRC, students aren't a number. Teachers build relationships with students. It makes any walls or barriers go down."

Rick also comes in for credit from Smith. "He is hands on with everything. He stays on top of my academics and my improvement on and off the court."

So how did Smith keep going despite the numerous blockades and obstacles? "I stayed busy and used my motivation to keep pushing. I have my fiancé and daughter to feed so I will never give up."

His drive both on and off the court "comes from my grandfather. He was born and raised in Jackson, Misssissippi where he was worked on a plantation since he was nine. To know that at a young age inspired me to always go hard and never stop."

Smith added, "I want to give a big shoutout to my family, to Keya Slaton and Hazel Smith my little family, and don't forget Coach Rick. Also I do this for my grandfather Lewis Rock Smith, my cousin Tre and my brother James Jackson who are not here with me anymore. Rest in peace."

Some desire the bright lights of the big city, others prefer having few if any distractions when crafting their lives. Away from the adverse, Smith is doing just that and it's just the beginning.