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Smith’s journey to North Texas translating to leadership for women’s basketball

Smith’s journey to North Texas translating to leadership for women’s basketball

February 19
23:40 2018

After playing two seasons at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, Brittany Smith finally reached the Division I summit once she stepped onto the court in the Super Pit for her first game at North Texas.

It was the experience leading up to the moment, though, that helped shape her into the player she is now as a junior point guard under head coach Jalie Mitchell.

“It was crazy,” Smith said of her journey. “To make it to Division I, you really had to work harder at a junior college just to make sure you were getting people to look at you.”

Prior to her junior college experience, her high school basketball career at Spring High School in Houston, Texas was successful as well. She made all-district all four years, and she averaged 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game as a senior in 2015.

At South Plains College, Smith did all she could to get her name out while still helping her team win. Smith led the Lady Texans to 28-6 record and helped them reach the second round of the 32 team NJCAA tournament.

While averaging 10 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game at South Plains College, she won the 2017 Western Junior College Conference Defensive Player of the Year in addition to being named to the 2017 Western Junior College Conference First Team All-Conference.

The accolades were there. The stats were there. And, most importantly to Mitchell, the work ethic was apparent in Smith. Mitchell had seen all she needed to and swept in to offer the highly-touted junior college guard.

“She had the right mindset for [this level],” Mitchell said. “Her determination and mentality led her team to the national tournament, and if they hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have ever seen her.”

Smith finally got the opportunity she was waiting for.

In her first game for the Mean Green, Smith started and wasted no time letting everyone know who she was as she hit the first shot of the season for the team with a 3-pointer just 23 seconds into the opening game.

Smith quickly stepped into the role she was signed for, and she has been a vocal leader who has helped the team improve before she even sank that opening 3-pointer.

“My role is important [because] I’m one of the leaders of the team, and [I try] being an example for all of the girls,” Smith said “Every team needs a player they can rely on in tough times.”

Smith has embraced her role as a leader on this team and her path from junior college has helped her develop into this role even better. It is something Mitchell sees on a daily basis from her starting point guard.

“She’s a natural leader, a warrior, very intelligent, and [she] got my attention as a coach,” Mitchell said. “We needed someone who could deliver the ball. She’s been everything we’ve needed and more.”

In her first season at North Texas, she is averaging 5.6 points per game on 35 percent shooting as well as shooting 36 percent from deep. Scoring has never been her strength, though. Smith is more of a traditional point guard who focuses on getting others the ball, and as a result, she has 77 assists on the season, 23 more than the next highest player on the team.

“It’s been great playing alongside Brittany this season,” junior guard Terriell Bradley said. “She’s our leader. She fits very well with the team.”

Smith has also been a leader on the defensive end recording 23 steals on the season, while constantly applying pressure to opposing guards, making it tough for them to get into their offense.

“She’s a great on ball defender,” Bradley said.  “She’s the top of our defense. She regularly guards the best player.”

A new point guard for any basketball team comes with adjustments. However, the team has still managed to outscore all opponents this season by an average of 7.6 points per game while recording a 14-10 record. If the winning record holds, it would be the first time for the program since the 2005-06 season.

Not a bad start to Smith’s Mean Green career.

Her grind through junior college and desire to lead resulted in her being a perfect fit for Mitchell’s team this season as they head into their final stretch of conference play.

“I started playing point guard because of my leadership abilities,” Smith said. “[I want to] be a person [my teammates] can talk to and pick them up when they need it.”

Featured Image: Junior Point Guard Brittany Smith (3) holds off an SMU opponent. Madison Gore

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Joshua Paveglio

Joshua Paveglio

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