BY Mark Znider
Carter Smith heard the same praise from Division I college coaches who were scouting him throughout his senior season at Upper Arlington. They loved his skills and headiness, but could not offer a scholarship because he stood 5 feet 10.
Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter gave Smith a chance to walk on because he trusted UA coach Tim Casey's word. Casey played for Hunter at Wittenberg. The same pitch came from Davidson.
But Smith wanted some scholarship money and a fair shot to play early, so he signed with Division II Stonehill College three years ago. The school is in Easton, Mass., about a half-hour south of Boston.
"I've found the right spot," Smith said. "I wanted to be with a winner, and Stonehill went to the final four the season before I got here. Then there is the community. It's special. It's an interactive environment. Boston being so close played a little bit of a role getting me here. This is a cool part of the country, but I'm not a Red Sox or Patriots fan. I'm still Buckeye faithful."
Smith, a junior point guard, has become one of the better players in the Northeast-10 Conference. He is averaging 13.0 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds for the Skyhawks (12-6, 7-5).
Shooting is a strong suit. Smith has 36 three-pointers and is shooting 45.1 percent overall. He has made 42 of 45 free throws, and his .933 percentage ranks second in the conference.
Distributing the ball to the open man, though, is why he averages 31.1 minutes a game.
"When I got here I was determined — focused — on being a good player," Smith said. "College basketball was the next challenge. I'm growing as a person and as a player."
Smith played in every game as a freshman and averaged 6.2 points. He started all 26 games last season and averaged 11.0 points and had 47 three-pointers.
"I started a couple times my freshman year and got a taste," he said. "Those minutes shaped me to take over. I got a lot of help that year from Sam Markle. He was a senior point guard when the team went to the final four. Then I had to focus on what I bring to the table as a sophomore."
Smith's lack of size never has been a factor.
"Once I'm on the court, size does not go through my mind," he said. "Everyone ties his shoes like I do. It doesn't limit me."
Smith also excels academically. He's a communication major with a 3.0 grade-point average. He made the Northeast-10 commissioner's honor roll both semesters last year.