By Doug Gorman
Basketball coaches spend their careers preaching the importance of playing tough defense.
Former Mt. Zion standout Allen Smith, who graduated last month after a stellar high school career on the basketball court and in the classroom, must have been listening.
Because despite his 13.7 points per game career scoring average, 4.5 rebounds per game and 1.6 steals, Smith's knack for playing defense frustrated his opponents during his three-year career with the Bulldogs.
This past season, Smith's defensive effort helped derail Jonesboro as the Bulldogs pulled off the upset in the key Region 2-AAAAA victory in a game played at Mt. Zion.
En route to that victory, Smith helped keep Toney Douglas in check, especially in the second half. Douglas finished his career as the all-time leading scorer in Clayton County history, and signed a basketball scholarship to Auburn last fall.
Smith's attitude about defense mirrors his philosophy on doing whatever it takes to help the team.
"My favorite memories about playing at Mt. Zion are just being part of the team," he said. "I tried to play hard on offense and defense."
Smith will now take his skills to the next level after signing a basketball scholarship to Brewton-Parker College in Mt. Vernon.
Getting the chance to play at the next level is the culmination of hard work for Smith who began playing basketball as a student at Riverdale Middle School.
Smith joined the Mt. Zion varsity as a sophomore, but saw limited playing time after hurting his knee. Hard work and rehabilitation helped Smith return to the court for his junior and senior years.
"Brewton Parker is getting a steal," said Mt. Zion assistant coach Dannie Love. "I can't say enough about what a great person he is. He is an honor student and a hard worker on and off the court. He was always such a hard worker. He was one of the last players to leave the gym."
Brewton-Parker was the first school to offer Smith a scholarship offer.
"It's a nice campus and I had a good visit," said Smith. "I think I'm going to have a chance to come in and contribute a freshman."
Brewton-Parker head coach Steve Baker has high hopes for the incoming freshman.
"There's always a period of adjustment from the high school game to the college game, but we think Allen has what it takes to play here. He is blessed with athletic ability," said Baker.
Smith joins a winning program at Brewton-Parker. The school is a member of the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Conference and just missed going to the national NAIA tournament.