Sports

Decatur's Smith will play basketball at Portland State

Jerron Smith will be heading down Interstate 5 to play basketball at Portland State University.

The senior-to-be at Decatur High School verbally committed to play for the Portland State Vikings starting in 2011. The 6-foot-3 guard notified the Viking coaching staff earlier this week.

“They showed a lot of love to me early,” Smith said. “They have an excellent coaching staff. They are a very up-tempo team and that fits my game real well.”

Smith choose Portland State over schools like Lehigh, San Diego, Montana State, UC Davis and the University of Portland, among others. But Portland State always had the inside edge. Smith’s father played basketball at the school during the mid-1970s.

“I didn’t want to go to the East Coast,” said Smith, who sports a 3.8 grade-point average. “The school is only two hours away and my parents will be able to see my games. Education was also very big to me. My parents raised me to think schoolwork comes before sports and I’m very proud of that.”

Smith was a first-team, All-South Puget Sound League South Division selection last season after leading Decatur in scoring at 20.9 points a game and failed to score in double digits just once. In the last two seasons, Smith has scored in double figures in 58 of 60 games. He tallied 30 or more points five times this season.

Smith will return for his senior season in hopes of leading the Gators to their fifth state tournament in a row. But Decatur will be competing as a Class 3A school during the 2010-11 season. Smith is a two-time member on the Mirror’s All-City Team.

“He’s really stepped his game up,” Decatur head coach Kevin Olson said. “I wasn’t so sure that he would be a Division I guy. But he has gotten a lot stronger and bigger. He is now creating his own shot more and more, which was a problem before.”

Smith’s early commitment to Portland State will allow him to concentrate on winning basketball games for the Gators instead of where he’s going to spend his college years.

“My goal was always to have a scholarship before my senior season,” Smith said. “And I accomplished that goal.”

“I was going to support him however he wants me to support him,” Olson said. “But this is good because now we can concentrate on going out and cutting down the nets next season. We won’t have to worry about getting a scholarship or anything.”

Portland State plays in the Big Sky Conference and lost in the league’s semifinal last season to Weber State, 69-60. The Vikings (13-19 in 2010) are coached by Tyler Geving and last went to the NCAA Tournament in 2009.

Smith is currently playing with the Friends of Hoop AAU basketball team out of Seattle and also helped Decatur win the prestigious Tacoma Community College spring league. The Gators beat Lakes in the championship.

Smith will be able to officially sign a national letter of intent on Nov. 10. Smith will follow in the footsteps of his brother, Terrell, when he inks with a Division I basketball program.

Terrell Smith starred at Federal Way High School for four years and is currently entering his senior year at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif. As a junior, he started 34 games for the Tigers and averaged 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds.

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