February 10, 2011

Smith-Rivera taking it slow this time around

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At one time, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was committed to Xavier University and considered a major get for the A-10 power. For various reasons, Smith-Rivera decided to open up his recruitment and officially de-commit, opening the doors for plenty of high-major's to re-recruit the 6-foot-3 point guard. Ohio State is a program which has offered and continues to stay atop his list.

It isn't too often when a player of Smith-Rivera's caliber comes back on the market after having committed to a quality program.

Recently, he did just that, deciding not to stick with Xavier and instead begin the recruiting process over again from the beginning.

At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Smith-Rivera is a bigger point guard who can score as well as serve as the court general for his team. His list was lengthy before his original commitment, but now has grown even more so after opening things up. When it comes to Ohio State, a program which has been on the talented four-star guard for as long as any other school, the Buckeyes have made a lasting impression on he and his family and continue to remain one of the schools being considered for his services.

"I'm still pretty high on Ohio State," said Smith-Rivera via phone. "Recently they haven't been in too much contact but they're still up there. They've offered me a scholarship so they're one of my top schools. "

Thad Matta and Ohio State have put together one of the top programs in the country, and currently rank No. 1 in college basketball. Having visited the campus in Columbus, Ohio previously, Smith-Rivera and his family remain impressed with what the Buckeyes have to offer not only in terms of the basketball program, but academically as well as the campus and student life. The coaching staff has developed a solid relationship with the family and remains one of the major factors in his continued interest.

"Oh yeah, just the way he takes care of his guys and looks out for his team, " Smith-Rivera said when asked about his feelings towards Thad Matta. "As far as coaching is concerned, he's one of the best so I think that goes a long way and I think that's why they're the number one team in the country. "

Ohio State has distance on its side; however, Smith-Rivera indicated that distance will not play a major factor in his decision. Another major difference between Ohio State and some of the other programs currently recruiting him is the sheer size and population of the University. Those variables matter to many prospects, but Smith-Rivera isn't concerned with either.

"It's more academic than anything," he said. "The size of the school doesn't matter; just whatever I feel is right for me pretty much--which one I'm going to be able to trust the most. A lot of schools are trying to sell you the same thing but at the same time there just has to be a gut feeling that just puts one over the top. I'll be back to visit Ohio State hopefully pretty soon, there are a lot of schools I'd like to visit but I'll probably be back up there. Hopefully when the season ends I'll be able to go to a lot of the schools I want to look at."

In terms of when he plans to make a final decision, there really isn't a set timetable. Smith-Rivera plans to take it slowly and make sure he obtains as much information about each of the programs he's interested in before making any kind of decision.

"Hopefully after I take all the visits I plan on taking but more than likely at the end of my high school career."

When asked to list off the programs going after him the hardest as of right now, Smith-Rivera said Memphis, Baylor, Kansas State, Texas, Virginia, UCLA, Florida, Georgetown, Miami, and Xavier and others are currently in constant contact with him.

Individually, he is working towards getting back to full go after suffering an injury over the summer which caused him to miss significant time. Conditioning has been the biggest hurdle in getting back to full strength, and is something he continues to work on.

"Really just get back in condition," said Smith-Rivera. "After I was injured over the summer my condition was bad so I'm really trying to work that back up. I'm really just polishing my game up and getting ready for college. Most coaches are recruiting me as a point guard but there are those who want me to do both; kind of play a combo guard. More from a scoring standpoint but still play point guard."

With his size and skill, he will be a major addition to whichever program ends up landing him. In the current state of college basketball, the combo guard with leadership skills as a point guard is a major area of focus for many of the elite-level programs around the country, making Smith-Rivera an extremely coveted prospect.

As he focuses on ending his season, he and his family will begin to focus on his recruitment and aim towards locking down and scheduling visits for the summer months and in all likelihood, Ohio State make the cut.


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