It was previously announced that Jonathon Smith, the best player on the Santa Monica College basketball team last season, signed a letter of intent with Cal State Northridge.
It could be a fascinating study to see if Smith, who was once deemed too undisciplined to play for SMC, can succeed with Bob Braswell, who is known as a tough disciplinarian.
Judging by the improvement Smith made at SMC he may make it with the Matadors in the Big West Conference
Smith played at Westchester High one season after transferring from Leuzinger. Then, as a Santa Monica College sophomore, he was second on the team in steals and assists while becoming the sixth-leading scorer in school history.
He’s a dynamo, 5-foot-9, extremely quick, a terrific passer and good shooter. Small, quick point guards who can get the ball to open teammates are valuable, whether they can make outside shots or not. Really, good shooting from that position is a bonus. The ones who shoot well are particularly valuable.
Numerous four-year schools recruited Smith and he also considered Northern Arizona and Long Beach State among others..
SMC was plagued by injuries and won only three conference games. The team had a 9-4 record when three key players went out for the balance of the season. Before the last home game, an 84-83 victory over Bakersfield College, Smith discussed the team’s struggle to succeed.
“It was a difficult season,’’ he said. “With the injuries, roles changed and guys were playing out of position. I did more scoring but as a point guard I prefer to pass.’’
Smith tried to do what was best for the team. He scored 19 points against Bakersfield. Earlier in the season when SMC was winning, Smith was named MVP of a tournament.
He was advised by SMC Coach Trevor Shickman to transfer last summer because of poor academics and a tendency to shoot instead of pass. Smith wanted to stay. He passed three tough courses in summer school, then changed his game.
“After that he was a delight to coach,” said Shickman. “If he took a questionable shot he’d run past our bench and point it out before I could.’’
It is a tribute to Smith’s improvement and maturity that Braswell wants him.
“John McMullen was mild-mannered, I was somewhat more demanding of players and Coach Braswell is far beyond where I am,’’ said Shickman. “It’s a great opportunity for Jonathan to continue his career.’’McMullen won 520 games in 25 years at SMC before retiring prior to last season. He was the coach who brought Smith to the school.