Background: The Purdue Boilermakers offered Basil Smotherman a scholarship before he ever played a high school basketball game. The 6-foot-5 wing committed to Purdue during his sophomore season, and now he is playing the best basketball of his career. Here is a look at what Smotherman brings to the table.
On Offense: Over the course of the last two calendar years the questions surrounding Smotherman have had nothing to do with raw ability, however on the offensive end he simply wasn’t assertive and settled for deep jumpers far too often.
Now as a senior Smotherman is beginning to turn the corner. He has been a completely different player on offense this year than he has at any point in time during his high school career. In multiple viewings this year, Smotherman has been assertive, played with toughness, and uses his athleticism and nice looking shot to take over games for his Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence North squad.
The first thing that really stands out about Smotherman is his physical frame. If you wanted to create a shooting guard, it would look like Smotherman. He is 6–foot-5, has long arms, is strong, and is a good athlete. And now he is using that physical advantage to attack the rim and score in the mid-range and through contact around the basket.
Also Smotherman has a smooth release on his shot, however right now he remains inconsistent from deep. He is best in the mid-range where he has a nice floater and also seems more comfortable with his footwork shooting off the bounce.
Still to be the player that he could become, Smotherman will need to get more consistent from three and be someone that defenses must close out hard to. The other area where Smotherman needs to improve on the offensive end is right now he is very left hand dominant.
It isn’t all that uncommon for lefties in high school to really favor their left hand because defenders usually lose track of that and allow them to go that direction. Still Smotherman almost never goes right, and never looks to finish with his right hand around the rim which can lead to blocked shots.
While Smotherman is night and day on the offensive end as compared to last year, there is still room for growth with his game. However right now he is capable of putting up big scoring numbers and is playing with a ton of confidence.
On Defense: This is a place where Smotherman should be excellent. Physically and athletically he can easily guard any wing, that means a shooting guard or a small forward, and then also in college probably can guard a power forward because of how strong he will be along with his size and athleticism.
While physically he is more than capable, right now at times Smotherman can be a consciousness objector on the defensive end. He doesn’t exert max energy and too often can kind of let his man go by him or simply not pressure the ball the way he should.
A lot of that should be fixed with coaching and accountability which comes in college, but none the less it is a bit of concern. While Smotherman has turned the corner in terms of assertiveness on the offensive end, he needs to do the same thing on defense, and that hasn’t taken place yet.
Even with that level of concern the upside for Smotherman on defense is huge since he can move well laterally, has long arms, and will be strong enough and big enough to guard multiple positions. While he may never develop that pitbull mindset on the defensive end, he should be a more than adequate defender and someone that will give a defense multiple options on how to guard because of his versatility.
Overall Impression: Overall this year has been a huge step in the right direction for Smotherman. Quite honestly he had a disappointing sophomore and junior year, but now as a senior he is starting to show the flashes of what made him such a sought after player during his freshman season.
He is still a bit more potential than player, and that is a bit of a concern given that he might be counted on right away in college, but make no mistake about it he is coming on strong. If Smotherman can indeed continue to make improvements with his shot and stay with an aggressive mindset he could be someone who shines when he gets to college as an upperclassman.
Now it won’t be easy as Smotherman will have to compete for minutes against guys such as Bryson Scott and Kendall Stephens his entire career, but this year has clearly put him in a position to do just that.