October 17, 2013

Smith, 49er to Aggie

Kevin McCarthy

It didn't take long for Christopher Smith to decide on his next college home—he's headed to a very successful program, one now in the prestigious Mountain West Conference (MWC).

photo of Christopher Smith

The sharpshooting Smith came out of Center High in 2012 and aligned himself with Yuba College and Coach Doug Cornelius, someone with a reputation for moving players to the next level. The 6-foot-4 guard proceeded to average a 49er team-leading 15.7 points per game while shooting 53% overall, 43% on 109 three-point attempts and 80% from the foul line. He also passed for 61 assists in 25 games.

With St. Mary's, Nevada and Utah State eagerly lining up visits for this month. Smith began by tripping to Logan, Utah this past weekend. He found what he wanted, ending his recruitment by committing to the Aggies and Coach Stew Morrill. The latter took home 2009, 2010 and 2011 Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors and has enjoyed 14 straight 21-win seasons, a feat that helped USU in becoming a first-year member of the MWC.

Smith was received during his visit by former Yuba College stars Spencer Butterfield and Sean Harris, now both seniors. Butterfield received Second Team All WAC honors after last season while Harris missed the season due to injury.

While the success and player familiarity played a role in his decision, other factors were more prominent.

“The Utah State playing style fits me and the school spirit is crazy there,” Smith explained. The Aggies play in The Spectrum, which seats over 10,000 and the program has averaged 8,500 fans per game -- “it's huge” according to Smith. Plus, USU fans are renown for their vocal antics versus opponents. He added, “it's one of the highest levels of competition.”

Plus, Smith's family and relatives can catch him in action when the Aggies hit the road versus fellow conference members San Jose State University, Fresno State and Nevada -- all driveable locations.

He's being looked as a shooting guard and a wing.

Utah State will lose leading scorer Preston Medlin, a two guard, after this season plus the 6-foot-3 Butterfield, who is the heart and soul of the team. Replacement firepower will definitely be needed and quickly.

What's interesting is that Smith was situated all over the floor, playing every position while at Center High. “I would post up a lot” because he was the tall guy on his squad. He was known for his ability to score inside against taller and wider opponents.

Once at Yuba, “I had to learn to score from the wing.” Call that mission accomplished.

Smith offered “my father” when asked of his biggest basketball influence. Pete Smith played collegiately at Sacramento State.

“I want to thank my Mom and my Dad, my brothers P.J. and Aaron, my high school coach Ray Gagnon, Coach Taubado of E-Time Hoops and Coach Corn,” for helping him in his journey.

Yuba finished 21-8 overall in 2012-13, 15-1 in the Bay Valley Conference, even with a freshman-dominated team. As for this season, Smith said, “we're definitely going to be really good. We're athletic and very deep.”