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SI High School Player of the Week - Basketball

February 15, 2011

Bria Smith

Position:

Center

School:

Christ the King

Location:

Middle Village, N.Y.

Height:

5-10

Weight:

N/A

Class:

Senior

Season Highlights:

The senior star is one of the best players in New York City, averaging 21.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. Smith, who was recently named a McDonald's All-American, has signed a letter of intent to play at Virginia.

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Posted: Tuesday February 15, 2011 12:12PM ; Updated: Tuesday February 15, 2011 12:12PM

Fearless Smith brings everything to the game

By Ben Glicksman, SI.com

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As far as high school women's basketball is concerned, playing for Christ the King is tantamount to playing for the Yankees. Winning is expected as the Middle Village, N.Y., powerhouse has claimed 15 state Federation titles since 1990. The Royals are perennially Goliath, a role that can be daunting for many 17- and 18-year-old girls to fill.

Not for Bria Smith. The 5-foot-10 guard has embraced the spotlight, leading the team to a 26-5 record and state championship as a junior in 2010. She was recently named a McDonald's All-American, and 13 games into her senior season she is averaging 21.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.2 steals and 4.2 assists per game.

"I feel like all four years that I've been here everybody's been gunning for us," she said. "But this year especially, people are trying to take [the title] from us since we already won last year."

Smith's steely demeanor isn't the only impressive part of her game. She's also a terrific ballhandler, lights-out shooter and lockdown defender. From her perspective, she's at her best when penetrating the lane.

"I think the best feature of my game is the way that I'm aggressive," she said. "I can really weave through people to get to the basket."

Her achievements at a young age are staggering. In addition to her Christ the King championship, she won a gold medal as part of the United States U17 national team in France last summer. She was recently honored as one of 10 players on this year's Naismith High School Watch List and has beaten countless boys in pick-up games.

Naturally, that battle-tested résumé would seem to be a perfect match for UConn, the most well-known women's basketball's program and one that recently completed an NCAA-record 90-game winning streak. She's even a legacy, as Tina Charles, a former Christ the King standout, helped carry the Huskies to back-to-back NCAA championships in 2009 and 2010. In August, however, Smith signed a letter of intent to play for Virginia, citing her relationship with the coaches -- and head coach Debbie Ryan in particular -- as the decisive factor.

"A lot of the schools that I went to it felt robotic," she said. "They were saying things to me just to be saying it. I feel like Virginia was up front with me."

The addition of Smith and Sarah Imovbioh, a four-star forward recruit from Charlottesville, Va., could propel the Cavaliers into ACC contention, providing a sorely needed boost for a program that hasn't advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2000. Smith has been studying the tendencies of New York Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter to prepare, trying to imitate her gallant style of play.

"You could be [Seattle Storm center] Lauren Jackson and she'll still take it up against you," said Smith. "I feel like that fearlessness, if I put it in my game, then I could be one of the great players like she is."

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