Men's Basketball Inks JUCO Standout Smith to NLI
MACON, Ga. – Mercer University men’s basketball head coach Bob Hoffman has announced the signing of Travis Smith to a National Letter of Intent to play for the Bears beginning in 2011-12. Smith is a junior college transfer who will have two years of eligibility remaining upon joining MU’s program.
“Travis is the type of player who has the ability to make all of those around him better on the offensive and defensive end by the intensity he displays on every possession,” Hoffman said. “He will be a tremendous compliment to the young men we already have in the program.”
Smith – a 6-3, 190-lb. junior guard - joins the Bears by way of Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., last season. Playing under GCCC head coach Jay Powell, Smith started all 30 games for the Commodores. He averaged a team-leading 14.5 points per game. He also booked 2.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, earning first team All-Panhandle Conference honors.
Smith displayed an excellent shooting touch, as well, hitting 47 percent from the field (136-288) and 41 percent from beyond the arc (47-114). He also shot an impressive 83 percent (117-140) from the free throw stripe, as well.
“Travis’ ability to create shots for himself and others was crucial for us and I believe he will be able to do the same at Mercer.” Powell said of Smith’s signing by the Bears. “He fits Mercer’s profile perfectly: he is a strong student and leader and he has a tremendous work ethic. Travis is a high-character young man and he will do great things at Mercer on and off the court.”
Smith has already received a taste of NCAA Division I basketball when spent his freshman season (2009-10) at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. As a member of PC’s squad, Smith played in 27 games – starting 26 – averaging 8.1 points and 3.3 assists per game as a freshman. He was second on the Blue Hose team in three-point baskets made, at 1.3 per game. At PC he led the team in assists, including passing off for a school NCAA Division I-era record nine assists in a single game versus Southern University. His high scoring game was 22 points in a win over Charleston Southern.
As a prep, Smith played under John Pearson, Jr. at the Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, S.C., where he was a 2009 graduate. He averaged 16.5 points, 7.0 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game as a senior, helping his team to a 26-5 record. He was a four-time all-state selection, as well as a four-time all-region honoree. Smith earned All-Low Country accolades as a senior, as well. He was a two-time team MVP.
“Mercer University is not only getting a very good basketball player but equally as good a person,” Pearson, Jr. said. “Travis Smith brought many good fortunes and memories to us here at Porter-Gaud School, and I’m sure he’ll do the same for Mercer University. He is an excellent player and is driven to improve his game and abilities.
“I am confident he will be a welcome addition to the (Bears) basketball team and represent his college very well. He’ll be a great teammate, a great student and a solid citizen and I look forward to seeing him benefit from excellent coaching, as he continues his basketball career. I will definitely be proud of him as I watch him battle for his school and excite the crowd with his basketball abilities. He’ll be a good one!”
Smith also played AAU for Curtis Wheeler’s Team Georgia Elite.
Smith is the son of Randy, Sr. and Pearl Smith. He has one brother, Randy. Smith plans to major in sports administration at Mercer.
Smith joins incoming 6-foot-9 freshman T.J. Hallice as signing with MU for next season. Hallice was inked during the early signing period in November. Hoffman expects to add a few more names to the Bears’ roster in coming days.
“We are blessed to have so many returning players,” Hoffman said. “Our goal is to fill the voids left by the graduation of our four seniors, as well as to surface additional talent that will fit our style and with our core group of returnees.”