It’s the holiday season, and nobody in Utah high school basketball has been in a more giving mood than Jordan’s Chandler Smith.
The senior point guard is leading the state with nine assists per game, and he fell one assist shy of a state record last week when he dished 18 dimes in a blowout win over West.
Jordan Holiday Tournament
Noon » American Fork vs. Sky View, at Jordan
1:45 p.m. » Murray vs. Riverton, at Jordan
3:30 p.m. » East vs. Sky View, at Juan Diego
3:30 p.m. » Bonneville vs. Hunter, at Jordan
5:15 p.m. » Layton vs. Skyline, at Juan Diego
5:15 p.m. » Timpanogos vs. Cyprus, at Jordan
7 p.m. » Juan Diego vs. Taylorsville, at Juan Diego
7 p.m. » Jordan vs. Summit, at Jordan
At Juan Diego » 7 p.m.
At Jordan » 3:30, 5:15, 7 p.m.
At Jordan » 5:15, 7 p.m.
Title game » 5:30 p.m., at Jordan
Ask him about his success, and true to form, he’ll look to his teammates.
"Everyone was making shots," Smith said. "It was real easy for me."
But with his team 6-2 heading into the Jordan Holiday Tournament this week, Jordan coach Robert Geertsen knows how important Smith is to his squad’s success.
"He has the ability to make everybody around him better, and that’s what makes him a special point guard," the coach said. "He can dominate a game without scoring a point.
"We’d be in big trouble without him."
The Beetdiggers found that out earlier this year in Las Vegas. With four minutes left and trailing by 1 to Nevada’s Cimarron-Memorial High School, Smith earned his fifth foul. The senior had to watch from the bench as his team fell 78-73 in Jordan’s second loss of the season.
"Without him on the floor, we really struggled to have any continuity with our offense. We turned the ball over more," Geertsen said. "It just makes it so much harder when he’s not out there."
Smith’s rise at Jordan has been a pleasant surprise for his coach.
Smith averaged just four points and one assist per game as a junior.
But after a summer of basketball camps — hours of ball-handling drills and scrimmages with his teammates — Smith has gained a new level of comfort, and his coach’s faith.
Smith’s play led Geertsen to alter Jordan’s offense. Instead of relying heavily on set plays, he now relies on his point guard.
"I’m just kind of turning him loose and he’s able to create for teammates and make shots himself," Geertsen said. "I really have a lot of trust in him. I feel like I can turn to him to be the leader of our team. I’ve never really had that level of trust before, where it’s complete. And I have that with him."
Smith hasn’t let his team down. The team’s vocal leader on the court, Smith plays heavy minutes and has turned the ball over just 23 times, while tallying 72 assists so far this season.
He also is averaging 12.25 points a night.
The coach’s only real criticism for his floor leader?
"Sometimes he tells me I should have taken the shot," Smith said.
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.