One of the top sophomores this past season was located at Hickory Grove Christian, as 2021 guard A.J. Smith put on a show. Averaging 25.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists this past season, Smith has shown that he can compete at a high level and is now doing the same on the AAU circuit with Team Charlotte.
Already holding a few Division 1 offers, Smith is starting to catch the attention of coaches, becoming more than just a bully scorer on the floor. He spoke with Phenom Hoop Report more about how his summer has gone and how he continues to develop his overall game.
Here is our latest Q&A:
It has been an exciting summer so far for you but what has it been like playing for Team Charlotte 17u and the coaches?
It has definitely been an exciting summer so far, to say the least. Playing up on a circuit team has provided me with a unique platform to display my abilities and grow as a player. Also playing under Coach Jeff McInnis, who is a former NBA point guard allows me to grow in knowledge of the game as he has a very high basketball IQ and gives great advice that I can directly apply to my game.
What has been your focus and how have the coaches been looking to work on your game at a high level?
During the course of a game, I look to score and find my teammates aggressively while doing it all within the flow of the game. On the defensive end, we focus on applying pressure, taking charges and rebounding. My coaches have been helping me make the right play at all times and not be just a scorer, but make others around me better.
How has it been competing at the highest of level and what has it shown you so far?
I enjoy playing at the highest level, it allows me to constantly get better every day. And I get the opportunity to establish myself as one of the best by going against older and high rated competition constantly. I enjoy working hard and being around coaches that genuinely care and push me to be the best I can be.
You were a monster this HS season, especially scoring wise. How have you continued that mentality this summer and what goes into you having that mindset?
Team Charlotte has more high-level talent than my high school team, so I do not shoot as much. I have continued to be aggressive, but more efficient from the field. I look to have confidence in every shot I take, and that applies no matter where I play. I also key in on other aspects, such as being vocal, a great rebounding guard, and defender to compliment my scoring ability.
As far as recruitment, how has that been going for you overall? What have coaches been saying that they like about your game?
Recruitment has been going well, coaches like my strong frame and how I have the ability to score from all three levels while being a good defender. The ability to be a two-way player is important in the Team Charlotte program. This prepares me for college.
What interests and offers do you hold right now? And with the offers, what are your thoughts about each program (what stands out to you now)?
I hold offers from Charlotte and Hampton right now. I have strong interest from Clemson and Temple, along with new interest from various D1 schools.
Do you have any future plans on visits, unofficials, team camps, etc?
I plan on attending the Charlotte team camp with Hickory Grove Christian, along with two other team camps for private schools.