By Doug Halberstadt
Her name is Nicole Smith. If you follow high school basketball, you’d better get used to hearing her name. She’s 6 feet, 4 inches tall, wears No. 45 and plays center for the Lady Indians at Rockton Hononegah. Later this fall, she’ll be hitting the hardwood for her senior year. Smith was hampered with knee injuries last season and only appeared in 23 of the Indians’ 32 games. She intends for her senior year to be entirely different.
She had her second surgery last March to repair some scar tissue in her knees, and during a phone interview last Sunday (Sept. 4) she told me she “is feeling great and the knees feel a lot better.” So much so, in fact, that she has been playing summer ball without the aid of a brace.
Smith also told me she has committed to attend the University of Iowa to play basketball for coach Lisa Bluder following her senior season. She will sign a letter of intent in the school cafeteria Nov. 9. Iowa has offered her a full four-year scholarship to play basketball for the Lady Hawks. Smith is still determining whether she will pursue a degree in physical therapy, radiation science or social psychology.
She has already been on two unofficial visits to the campus and participated in a basketball camp there this summer. Her official visit to the school will be Sept. 23. At that time, she will meet with the coaching staff and some of the players and attend a football game.
Smith had previously been thinking about playing her college ball at the University of Wisconsin. She changed her mind when the Badgers fired Women’s Head Coach Lisa Stone earlier this year. Smith said she thought she just fit better with the staff at Iowa and that is why she picked them over Wisconsin.
I asked Smith if she thinks she can start right away as a freshman at Iowa. “They have a girl named Morgan Johnson who is a junior this year and will be a senior when I get there. She is 6 feet, 4 inches [tall] also. I’ll probably be playing behind her my first year, and then move into the starting role my sophomore year.”
Smith will be only one of three seniors playing for Hononegah Head Coach Randy Weibel this season. She will be joined by Elizabeth Jordan and Auburn transfer Krystal James. Smith said she is excited about the Indians’ prospects and expects big things for the coming season even though they don’t have a ton of depth. She says a lot will depend on the contributions from underclassmen Karley Kolberg and Madison Dunker.
Smith had 77 blocked shots her junior year and averaged just fewer than 9 points per game. Smith hopes with both knees healthy those numbers will go up.
It should be an interesting year when the basketball season gets here. Hononegah plays their first 2011 conference game against Guilford at the end of November.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 7-13, 2011, issue