The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Sports

April 14, 2013

Breakout season for Smith

DANVILLE —  Denzel Smith had very limited success in his first two seasons with the Vikings.

But the Danville junior center wasted very little time making a name for himself in the 2012-13 season.

In the season opening game against Champaign Centennial and future University of Illinois player Jeff Finke, Smith had 28 points and 13 rebounds.

“I was just trying to prove to myself that I was just as good as him,’’ said Smith, who wound up averaging 15.6 points and 7.0 rebounds a game this year for the Vikings. “Jeff is my buddy, but at the same time, I think we’re similar players.

“Having that kind of game against him in the first game, gave me a lot of confidence.’’

Smith was an all-tournament selection in the Lincoln Thanksgiving Tournament, earned first team all-Big 12 Conference honors and was an honorable mention all-state selection by the Associated Press. He can add one more accolade as Smith was also chosen as the Commercial-News Player of the Year.

“I had no idea that any of this was possible when the season started,’’ Smith said.

And why was that?

“I didn’t have a very good year last year and I wasn’t sure what to expect for this year,’’ he said. “The first thing that changed for me was my attitude and then I was able to improve my post game and my dribbling.

“Once I did those things, it seemed like everything just came easier for me. But, it definitely started with my attitude.’’

Danville first-year coach Ted Houpt admitted that Smith made huge strides both on and off the court this past season for the Vikings.

“Some of the games he had this past season were as impressive as any we’ve seen here at Danville in a number of years,’’ said Houpt, noting that Smith had career-highs of 39 points and 17 rebounds in a triple overtime loss to Champaign Central. “He definitely made some big strides and the good news is that he has a lot of room to grow.

“I don’t think we’ve seen anything close to what he is capable of doing on a consistent basis.’’

That’s the one area that Houpt is looking for improvement from Smith.

While the 6-foot-6 center had some monster games, he also had some very average games as well.

Smith also missed a few games with an ankle injury and he missed a game because of disciplinary reason.

“Those things are proving to me that I need to learn to fight through things better,’’ Smith said. “I allowed my actions to get me in trouble and it kept me off the court. I cannot allow those things to keep me down.’’

Houpt said it’s just part of growing up and maturing as both a player and a young man.

“When he gets that stuff cleaned up, the sky’s the limit for Denzel,’’ Houpt said. “He is very talented — there is not a lot that he can’t do. He can put the ball in the hole a lot of different ways.

“I think he will be one of the best players in the state. He is heading in the right direction and another year of maturity all-around and the talent he has it’s as good as I’ve seen.’’

In an effort to expand his abilities this offseason, Smith is playing on an AAU team with Finke.

“We have three guys that are 6-9, so I’m playing on the wing,’’ Smith said. “It’s allowing me to work on my perimeter game instead of just playing on the post.

“I’m working on my ballhandling skills and learning how to come off of screens. I feel like I’m becoming a more complete basketball player.’’

Smith points out that this added experience will not only help him for his senior year, but it should also open up opportunities to play at the next level.

“He can already do a lot of things on the court,’’ Houpt said. “We would love to see him play the kind of defense that he played at times this past year. I think he can hit the outside shot. But, if he puts in a little time during the offseason, that will be a shot that he will be comfortable taking even more next year.

“When you mix a good outside game with his ability to post people up on the low block, it will make him a super player.’’

Smith has set a pretty lofty goal for the Vikings.

“I want to end my senior year on a bang,’’ he said. “Our goal is to win a state championship.’’

His coach didn’t go that far, but admitted the Vikings, who were 5-21 this past year, could make some incredible improvements with Smith.

“He is obviously a very talented player, but we also need to get some improvement from the people around him,’’ Houpt said.

And if Smith has the kind of improvement next year that he displayed this year, the Vikings could be contending for a conference title and even more.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • SPT - CN0417 - Andy Bott photo Better late than never for Bott BISMARCK -- Marshall golf coach Matt Grobe completely surprised Bismarck-Henning standout Andy Bott with an e-mail earlier this year. Bott, who is a three-time all-stater for the Blue Devils, was preparing to attend Illinois Wesleyan in the fall. "Ou

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT- CN0417- Westville softball photo Nourie, Tigers beat Comets 20-4 in five inning game MUNCIE -- On a very windy day which made playing softball tough for both teams, Westville defeated Oakwood in five innings 20-4 with some good offensive production and a solid pitching performance from Stefanie Nourie. Nourie got her first win of the

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT- Cn0417 - Seeger baseball photo 2 Falcons make quick work of Pats WEST LEBANON, Ind. - North Vermillion sent 11 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning and scored seven runs en route to a 13-1 win over the homestanding Seeger Patriots. The visiting Falcons got five hits including doubles by Jordan West

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0417 - Local Roundup photo Salt Fork's Learnard pitches perfect game JAMAICA -- Salt Fork's Ross Learnard finally got back on the mound on Wednesday for the first time in a week and he did not disappoint, pitching a perfect game as the Salt Fork baseball team beat Schlarman Academy in five innings. "He had his breakin

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT- CN0416 - NV softball photo 2 Patriots smash Falcons CAYUGA, Ind. - Seeger took an early lead, extended it and then kept North Vermillion at bay as the Patriots defeated the host Falcons 14-3 in five innings. The visitors scored one run in the top of the first inning and, after North Vermillion went do

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • Trojans get past Ramblers

    STAFF REPORT sports@dancomnews.com ATTICA, Ind. -- Regan Foster hit a home run and drove in three runs as the Covington softball team defeated Attica 8-5 on Tuesday in Wabash River Conference action. Andi Taylor had three hi

    April 16, 2014

  • Tuesday's Local Scores |PREP SOFTBALL At Attica, Ind. Covington 8, Attica 5 Covington 120 004 1 — 8 10 4 Attica 001 100 3 — 5 8 2 WP — Ali Holmes. LP — Torrie Ward. Two or more hits — C: Andi Taylor 3 A: Alexis Burris

    April 16, 2014

  • SPT - CN0415 - DACC baseball jump photo DACC splits with Parkland DANVILLE -- To quote Bull Durham, "this is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." Despite eminent threats in the forecast, it didn't rain on Sunday at

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - CN0415 - Local roundup photo Danville standout Smith signs with Wabash Valley DANVILLE -- A year ago, Mike Carpenter left Danville Area Community College to take the head coaching position at Wabash Valley College. On Monday afternoon, Carpenter returned to Vermilion County and this time, he secured the services of Danville Hi

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • No Headline Provided Local COLLEGE BASEBALL At Danville Stadium, Danville Game 1 Parkland College 5, Danville Area Community College 3 Parkland 100 310 0 -- 5 9 0 Danville Area 000 300 0 -- 3 7 1 WP -- Bryce Pennington. LP -- Zach Anderson. Two or more hits -- Parkland:

    April 15, 2014

E-edition
NCAA basketball
NJCAA Tourney Photos 2014


Check out the action at the NJCAA Division II National Men's Basketball Tournament March 18-22 at DACC. Buy photos from the Commercial-News here: http://smu.gs/1iCWKnP

Must Read
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
NDN Video
Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video Miley Cyrus Hospitalized After Severe Reaction To Medicine Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Toddler climbs into vending machine 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Much-Anticipated 'Gone Girl' Trailer Finally Debuts! (VIDEO) Dog and Toddler Wear Matching Outfits in Adorable Photo Series VP Biden: "World witnesses ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things" It's Official! Michael Strahan Joins "GMA" Blood Moon Time-lapse Actress Lake Bell Goes Topless The Five Weirdest Local Taxes in America