When Zoesha Smith’s dream school came calling, she was compelled to answer the bell.
The Glynn Academy standout spurned more than a dozen programs seeking her services Tuesday when she committed to playing basketball at the University of Georgia.
Georgia was just one of the team’s to offer Smith in recent days as invitations from Pittsburgh, East Carolina and Miami pushed her number of Division I offers to over 15.
But the Bulldogs have been in hot pursuit of the rising senior for a while now. Georgia saw Smith in April at a camp in Birmingham, Ala., and the Terrors took their team up to Athens to compete in Georgia’s elite camp in early June, where they went 6-0.
“They just kept texting me and following me throughout the summer with AAU, coming to my games and stuff,” Smith said.
Georgia’s staff continued to monitor Smith following her visit in an effort to land the reigning Region 2-6A Player of the Year.
As a junior, Smith averaged team-highs in points (19.9), rebounds (12), steals (2.3), and blocks (1.3) while helping to lead Glynn Academy to a 26-5 record, the program’s first region championship since 1994, and an appearance in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A playoffs.
If her averages weren’t impressive enough, Smith also flashed bouts of dominance throughout the season with four 30-plus-point performances and four 20-rebound games. She twice combined both feats, including a contest that saw her score 38 points while pulling down 20 boards.
Smith’s tremendous season earned her a place on the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association’s All-State team and USA TODAY All-USA Georgia girls second team. She was also named MVP of the GACA junior all-star game.
Georgia has been where Smith wanted to play her college ball, but what completely sold her was the program’s competitiveness under head coach Joni Taylor.
The Bulldogs are 81-44 in Taylor’s four seasons as coach with two appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Smith is confident in Georgia’s ability to bring out the best in her.
“Of course that’s my dream school, but I felt like with the potential I have to play basketball, I wanted to play against competition,” Smith said. “I knew if I went mid-DI, of course I could play with them, but it wouldn’t be no competition really. I just felt like I should play at a school that would make me be at my full potential.”
Smith said the plan is for her to begin her collegiate career at the 4 before potentially taking on some minutes at the 2 and 3 spots.
Already a Terror in transition, Smith wants to improve her ability to finish through contact, pull down boards, and her ball handling and shooting in addition to continued development in the mental aspects of the game.
“I need to work on consistency and not getting into so much foul trouble,” Smith said. “And when things don’t go good in games, don’t mentally check out, so be mentally stronger.”