Chris Smith: Not Your Average Freshman


Callen Gebhardt, Staff Writer

21 points on seven three pointers is a stat line you’d expect from an experienced upperclassman, not typically one you’d see from a freshman in his second ever varsity game. Chris Smith has taken up a large role on this year’s boys basketball team, and the 15 year old hasn’t let the pressure get to his head. He’s shot the three 32 times this season, and made almost half of them at 15.


Through six games he leads the team in points per game as well as three point percentage at an astonishing 47 percent. His team will count on him to keep this up with upcoming challenges against top 6A teams such as Legacy, Fossil Ridge, and Fort Collins. While it’ll be tough to keep up this efficiency, the freshman is confident in his abilities, “I’ve put a lot of work into my shooting in the offseason, different drills have gotten me reps to work on my shot and form”.


In only his second game of his high school career, Smith put up an astonishing stat line as previously mentioned, dropping the individual player season high of 21 points. Going seven of 11 from beyond the arc, he showcased his elite catch and shoot ability. He broke the school record for threes in a single game, and joked about hopefully breaking the record a few more times. Surprisingly, he claims shooting hasn’t always been the most important part of his game, and that his shot has come a long way in a short time, “A year or so ago I used to never really shoot the ball, I wasn’t a great shooter, now it’s almost all I do”.


He credited the corner three as a sweet spot for himself, and the numbers definitely don’t lie. He’s shooting 50 percent from both corners combined, but the other spots beyond the arc wouldn’t be considered weaknesses as he’s shooting 44 percent from the wings and top of the key. Still, he prefers the shortest spot around the arc, “Sometimes I’ll be able to just sit in the corner and wait for my teammates to find me,” he jokes.


The Freshman definitely does more than just sit in the corner or catch and shoot, as he’s proven his defensive IQ through his ability to take charges. Through 6 games he’s taken an impressive 7 charges, leading the entire 6A Front Range League in the stat category. This furthermore shows the effort and motor of the young player, and he’s pairing it with over one steal per game. But defense hasn’t been much of a problem for the Tigers who’ve held half their opponents under 50 points thus far. They’ve struggled to score the basketball, but still, Chris has proven to be a very promising scorer at such a young age.


Chris is surrounded by playmakers who are willing to find him for the three ball. Senior Point Guard Daryk Hall is averaging a very proficient 4.7 assists per game, and other playmakers include Colton Turner, John Wright, and Brayden Haan, and Chris isn’t the only shooter on the team as Junior Forward Marco Martinez is shooting a strong 35 percent from three. So he’s clearly surrounded with talent, meaning with some grit the Tigers should be able to compete against high level teams.


The team is composed of only 2 underclassmen, Chris being the only Freshman, but the older players have embraced the 9th grader. He credits team dinner, along with bus rides, and joking at practice as vital exercises that have helped the boys to build chemistry. The team has shown its ability to play together, showing some growth from last year’s young and inexperienced roster. They’ve clearly done well creating chemistry on and off the court, “they don’t treat me very bad at all”, Chris laughs, “I’ve heard stories of freshman being hazed, I haven’t had to deal with it much. It’s been mostly just jokes and fun with all of them.”


With this relatively young core, most of their leading scorers will return next year, and they are looking to capitalize on their experience. While this season they’ll be looking to improve on last year’s record and have a successful season, they definitely have a bright future. 


Next year’s team will have three third year players, and they’ll expect to have five to seven experienced seniors, meaning the currently young roster will have had a lot more time at the varsity level. Chris seemed very positive about the team’s future, “Hopefully we have a state championship in our future, we have a lot of talent in the room that’s still really young.”


In the offseason, Chris mentions his work with the Colorado Titans, his club team, where he played for their top 14 year old team. He was joined by teammates from surrounding schools such as Silver Creek, Holy Family, and Boulder. He competed in club tournaments within Colorado, as well as traveling out of state to play strong competition. It’s clear this experience helped to prepare him for the varsity competition level, as Smith hasn’t backed down while playing against many 17 and 18 year olds.


Smith’s teammates praise him as a hard worker and a mature kid for being just a freshman. His ability to work well with older teammates clearly shows he’s ahead of his age. Senior Point Guard John Wright explains that he’s enjoyed Chris as a new teammate. When talking about Chris he adds, “he’s a very easy kid to kid along with, and he’s never selfish on the court.”


Wright also credits how he enjoys being on the floor with Chris because of their complementary abilities. Wright is a top shooter on the team as well, making it easy for teammates to drive and create space when on the court with the two of them, “our shooting abilities really compliment each other, which really allows us to space the floor, and find each other for threes.” He says. 


This new spacing is clear, as many teammates credit him for improving the teams overall flow offensively. Many teams have chosen to “face guard” Chris, meaning they wont help their teammates on the drive. This has allowed players such as Gavin Turner and Marco Martinez to drive one on one. This also allows the team to drive and kick the ball out to Chris for easy threes. John explains how impactful Chris’s shooting ability has been, “Whenever we drive we have the option to jump stop and find Chris. I mean, three is more than two anyways.”


While Chris has already proven not only that he belongs at the Varsity level, but that he can thrive, there’s still even bigger things in his future. With his great IQ, motivation, competitiveness, and maturity, paired with amazing teammates around him, it’s clear that he’s setting up for success. Basketball at Erie definitely has many bright moments in its future.