If it can wrangle up the cash, the Utah State men's basketball team might just want to build a literal pipeline to Yuba College. In the recruiting pipeline, the Aggies already keep getting some of the junior college's best talent.
That trend continued Wednesday, as 6-foot-4, 195-pound sophomore guard Chris Smith announced his commitment to Utah State. The athletic wing was entertaining offers from St. Mary's and Nevada, but decided to go with the program that had been with him from the beginning.
Hailing from Sacramento, Calif., Smith was a standout at Center High, but didn't get any offers out of his prep career. But as soon as he stepped foot on Yuba's campus, he was on the Aggies' radar.
"They started recruiting me like the first day of my freshman year in college," Smith said. "They were the first ones to call, and they just stuck with me."
Smith is the latest to join the Aggies' 2014 recruiting class, along with guards Sam Merrill, Julion Pearre and Henry Bolton. All are expected to bolster the back court of Utah State's future, although with Merrill on a mission and Smith coming from junior college, that future will be spread out a bit.
What Smith brings is scoring: The guard was one of Yuba's leaders last year as a freshman with 17 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting at a 54 percent clip. Smith said the coaching staff sees him as a dynamic playmaker either at the 2- or 3-spots.
"The way the offense runs, I think it'd be very beneficial to my playing style," he said. "It fits how I play."
Smith took an official visit last weekend, watching the BYU-Utah State game alongside Bolton, who also committed to Utah State this week. Smith was struck by both his future venue and the rabid passion he saw from fans.
"The Spectrum, the gym, was insane," Smith said. "And I could see from the football game how crazy the fans were and how supportive they were of the football team. There's a lot of school spirit there."
Two current players on the roster are Yuba alums: Sean Harris and Spencer Butterfield. While Harris is still recovering from knee injuries, Butterfield worked out famously last year, leading the team through a cascade of injuries and finishing as a second team all-WAC performer.
How reasonable was it, then, that Butterfield should be Smith's host? The two never played together at Yuba, but Smith said he got along well with Utah State's senior guard.
"He really just showed me everything around the town, how hard they work, how hard he goes, and everything," Smith said. "He showed me it's just a really good place to be and a great place to play at."
— Kyle Goon
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