Smith the latest Fenwick freshman to start
Fenwick's Michael Smith pushes passed a Gordon Tech defender during their game on Friday, January 11, 2012, in Oak Park IL. | Chandler West~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:40AM
Devin Smith pushes his little brother hard, but it’s for a very good reason.
The former Hinsdale South basketball star sees greatness in his younger sibling, Michael Smith, a freshman starting point guard on Fenwick’s varsity.
“I realized he had the talent at a very young age,” said Devin, who graduated in 2008. “When I was in high school and he was in elementary school I’d play with him outside. I’d try to embarrass him, maybe get him to fall down crossing him over. I was working on my ball skills but it really helped him with his defense and lateral quickness. We’re a really competitive family and he’s really good because of that competition.”
When Devin was working overnights at Lifetime Fitness, he would come home at 6 a.m. and try to wake up his little brother to train. Of course, Michael was a little groggy but that’s nothing a little dousing wouldn’t fix.
“I’d throw water on him and he’d wake up,” Devin said, laughing. “I tell him all the time while we’re running the competition is sleeping. If you’re playing video games, someone else is out there working and getting better.”
Michael didn’t resent the tough love one bit. He enjoys how much his brother cares about him and how he pushed him.
“Ever since I was little I played with him and he made me better,” Michael said. “All the stuff I have is from him and God and my dad.”
Smith is having a remarkable first year as a Friar. He’s averaging just under 10 points per game and leads the team in assists. Starting a freshman on varsity is a big deal but Fenwick coach John Quinn has had success with it in the past and didn’t hesitate when he saw what Smith brought to the floor.
“If someone is good enough to play at this level, that’s where they play; we never hold anyone back,” said Quinn, who has started plenty of freshmen in the past, including Corey Maggette, Vincent Humphrey, Jason Okrzesik, Peter Flowers and Chris Williams. “From a coaching standpoint you want to make sure a young player doesn’t get overwhelmed and Michael doesn’t. He can go nose-to-nose with the best players in our league.”
Smith showed just that in the first varsity start. He dropped 14 points and six assists on St. Ignatius in a 64-52 road win on Jan. 4.
“I was happy and really excited with how I played,” Smith said. “But I just wanted to win that game. I left it all on the court trying to help the team win.”
There’s plenty to like about Smith, who hails from Burr Ridge, but what really stands out is his maturity and knowledge of the game.
“He reads the game very well,” Quinn said. “He’s very mature and is always asking questions to get better. He wants to play at the highest level he can and as a coach you love to see that.”
Smith, who won a state championship at Burr Ridge Middle School last year, is already getting interest from Big Ten schools. He’s just 5-foot-9 but doctors said he’s not done growing and the taller he gets the more interested big-name schools will get.
“Scouts love taller point guards,” Smith said. “You just have to be that much better if you’re smaller. It makes me want to work harder.”
Smith still has plenty to work on. Quinn would like to see him improve his jump shot and continue to get stronger. If he can do that, recruiters will find lots to love.
“We think he can be one of the best point guards in the state,” Quinn said.
That would make Devin Smith one proud big brother.