Basketball was the furthest thing from Alexandria Smith’s mind when he entered Murry Bergtraum as a freshman. Four years and plenty of hard work later its her ticket to a college education.
The Bronx native and Lady Blazers center is verbally committed to play women’s basketball at Middle Tennessee State. It was her only offer at the time, despite interest from plenty of other Division-I schools like Buffalo and Michigan State.
“That was the school I really wanted,” Smith said. “That was the school I wanted to go to. I felt like they were showing me the most love.“
The 6-foot-3 Smith, who represented the PSAL in last week’s Mayor’s Cup all-star game, the was confident more offers would come, but she didn’t want to wait to commit to the school she had her eye on and was most loyal to her. Middle Tennessee State and head coach Rick Insell offered her a scholarship right after seeing her play against Nazareth in January. That stuck with Smith.
“He offered me the first time he saw me play,” Smith said. “That alone made be feel like they have a lot of trust in me.”
Smith, who plays her travel ball with the Gauchos, was far from a natural when she first picked up a basketball at the behest of former Lady Blazers coach Ed Grezinsky. She did have good genes because her mother played hoops for him at Bergtraum, but she had to work on her skills. Smith joked that she could barely make a layup or shoot when she first started playing. A lot has changed since then.
“Now I am one of the best players in New York City,” she said. “I am thankful for a lot.”
Her improvement was gradual and she lost 10-15 pounds heading into her breakout junior year. Smith averaged 10.2 points and 9.1 rebounds that season. She did one better this year posting 14.6 points per and 12.2 rebounds a game. Her and Seton Hall-bound guard Ashanae McLaughlin carried Bergtraum back to the PSAL Class AA semifinals. She hasn’t peaked yet.
“I know I still got at lot of ways to go,” Smith said.
She said Middle Tennessee State is looking for her to make an impact right away. Smith is taking nothing for granted however on a team that went 24-10 overall and 14-4 in Conference USA this season. She is use to working her way up on team and that won’t stop now.
“I always go with the mentality that I have to work hard for what I get,” Smith said. “There is always going to be somebody better than me. I have to work hard so I can be on their level when I get there.”