Sophomore shows the way Broadneck's Smith is a rare athlete

December 22, 1992|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer

Jason Smith appears to be headed for greatness and is accepting the challenge early and with rare maturity. He not only wants the ball when the pressure is on, but usually produces when it is.

The Broadneck High school sophomore is captain of the 13th-ranked Bruins varsity basketball team (3-0), averages 24.6 points and was an All-County wide receiver in football.

A third varsity sport, which he has played the least but may be his best, baseball, awaits him in the spring.

Broadneck assistant athletic director and JV baseball coach Tim McMullen, who has seen them all since the Cape St. Claire school opened its doors 10 years ago, thinks Smith, 6 feet 1, is special.

"I predict that Jason will become the best athlete Broadneck has ever produced if he continues on the same path," said McMullen, who laid the school's sports foundation as its first athletic director and head baseball coach.

McMullen has seen the likes of Jamie Ballard (football and basketball) and Jeff Vincent (soccer, basketball and baseball), last year's Anne Arundel Sun Male Athlete of the Year, pass through, but none has had the potential Smith possesses.

"If he decides to pursue baseball, I think he could become a pro prospect because of his arm strength, speed and size," said McMullen of last year's JV center fielder and leadoff batter.

Smith says he may play baseball one more year, then give outdoor track a try in his junior year.

"I've always wanted to run track in high school and maybe college," said Smith.

McMullen says it doesn't surprise him that Smith might try track next year, and "there is no doubt in my mind, he would do well, he's such a great athlete and so coachable."

Basketball coach Ken Kazmarek recognized the same traits early in Smith. Last year, Smith became the first player to start as a freshman on the Bruins basketball team.

"Early last year, we scrimmaged our JV, and Jason impressed me along with another freshman in Jaylonnie Booth enough to bring them both up to the varsity. We did not have a true point guard at the time, and Jason handled the ball so well, had good hands and size that I made the decision to put him at the point."

Playing a key role on the varsity for a perennial Class 4A contender didn't faze Smith, and the Bruins made the state playoffs and finished 14-10 overall.

"The seniors and other kids accepted him right away, and the fact that they showed no animosity is what really helped him," said Kazmarek.

Smith says he was "a little nervous at first, but after a few games and with the seniors helping me, I started feeling comfortable."

When this season began, Kazmarek didn't have many returning seniors with a lot of playing time and boldly named Smith his team captain.

"Jason doesn't act like a 10th-grader and has the right kind of game personality and intensity to push the other guys that I want in a captain," said the coach.

"And after playing about 70 games of AAU ball during the summer before ninth grade and going to a couple good camps, he's ahead ofthe game."

Smith's father taught him to want the ball in crucial situations, and that built his confidence.

In the Bruins' opener, a 60-56 thriller over South River, Smith scored a career-high 34 points and was 19-for-22 from the line, including eight in a row in the last minute.

"He had been struggling at the line in practice all week before that game," said Kazmarek.

His work ethic and the fact that he, in the words of Kazmarek, "wants to be driven and pushed," is what makes him tick.

"It's important, too, that his parents [Howard and Delores] are his two biggest fans and are so supportive of what does," said Kazmarek.

And that includes everything, as in academics. Smith carries a 2.60 grade-point average. He hopes to become an attorney like his uncle, James Winstead.

"My parents stand on my academics," said Smith, whose top priority is to go to college.

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