Five star recruit
November Trojan of the month: John Smith Jr.
Making the jump from playing college basketball in the United States to Canada was a change of pace, but was something John Smith Jr. couldn’t pass up.
Smith was one of SAIT Trojans men’s basketball assistant coach Zach Alger’s new recruits for this season, in an attempt to push for an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) championship.
Alger tried to have Smith on one of his teams in the past, but it didn’t work out. This time, however, it all came together.
“Being able to come up here has been a blessing for me and my family,” Smith said.
“I decided to jump at the chance to play here.”
Smith has a strong support system from his family and friends back home, a close-knit group referred to as “Legion,” from Lacey, Wash.
“My mom was really happy about it and my sisters are super proud of me,” Smith said.
Despite going from playing halves in the States, to quarters in the ACAC, Smith has been able to adjust to the different playing style, leading the Trojans in scoring in six out of the seven games they’ve played so far, enroute to a 5-2 record.
A large part of the strong start for the team, according to Smith, is that the team has been able to build chemistry, leading to his teammates trusting the 6’2” guard in key situations.
“They have faith in me to take that big shot,” Smith said.
“We battle against each other everyday on the practice court, which has led to us clicking well.”
With the team being able to lean on Smith to lead and carry the load offensively, it’s a role that he has embraced and looks to continue once the season resumes in the new year.
“My teammates have shown a lot of confidence in me,” Smith said.
Being a key player for the Trojans was something that Smith envisioned when he landed in Calgary, but was willing to put aside personal success to better the team if necessary.
“I told myself when I came out here that I would sacrifice my game to try and win,” Smith said.
“I just want to win and be able to compete for a championship.”
Although the basketball season has just gotten underway, Smith is already looking towards next season in hopes of returning to the team, in large part due to the team itself and head coach Marty Birky.
“I like his (Birky’s) playing style, it fits my style.
“It’s awesome. I love playing with this team.”
Once his college career comes to an end, Smith has no plans to slow down or stop playing the game he loves, as he hopes he will be able to play at a professional level.
“I’ve had some looks in the past, [from] overseas. If I could do that, it would be awesome,” Smith said.
“I would love to play some pro ball.”
Smith’s ability to rack up points in a hurry and always score in double figures is credited to how he’s always played the game, which he summed up in two words: “Attack first,” Smith said.
“I want to put the defence on their heels. Go at them every time, that’s my style.”
As for the time being, Smith looks to continue the strong play he has shown and put up big numbers in hopes of helping the team win a championship.
“I’m here to go for the throw.”