June 30, 2009
Incoming Santa Clara freshman basketball player Robert Smith (RS) is already a Santa Clara University student after graduating from high school in early June. The 6-0, 175lb. point guard was first-team all-league and all-county after averaging 21.7 ppg, 6.2 apg and 9.6 rpg for Perris High School this past year.
Smith, who is taking a history class in Summer Session 1, is excited to be on the Mission Campus already. Below Smith talks about when he last cried and what he loves about Santa Clara. He also predicts, after a few days of playing with Kevin Foster, Foster may make more than 85 threes next year with him passing the ball because he can't wait to play college basketball at Santa Clara!
Welcome Robert Smith!
SCU: Your name is Robert Smith. Were you named after someone?
RS: I was named after my dad. People call me Rob or Robert - either is fine.
SCU: You graduated from high school on June 6. Feel pretty good about being done with high school?
RS: Yeah, but it was kind of sad because over four years I built relationships with a lot of people and I don't want to split from my friends. But I am really happy to be here now. I keep in touch with a lot of them daily.
SCU: How did high school prepare you for the next step?
RS: I cried the day I left because I left my mom and she was crying. But I matured a lot in high school. The people I was around helped me and I learned how to communicate a lot better I am the quiet type.
SCU: How would you describe yourself? Quiet?
RS: People might think because I play basketball that I am arrogant, but I would describe myself as goofy and shy. I smile a lot so that helps me break the ice. Once people get to know me they think I am a cool, nice guy.
SCU: What is the best part of graduating from high school? The worst?
RS: Best: I knew I was going to college and play Division I basketball. Worst: Leaving my friends behind was hard, but I talk to them every day. One of the guys I played with in high school is going to UNLV so we'll be able to see each other when we play them in December here.
SCU: You played basketball for Perris High School. Did you play any other sports while you were there?
RS: I ran track my senior year. I did the long jump, high jump and ran on the 4x100m relay. I high jumped 6'3, but didn't go to state because I hurt my hamstring.
And freshman year I played football as a running back. I decided to stop because I got hit really hard one game and my side swelled up a lot. My mom told me I had to choose one sport or the other, so I stayed with basketball.
SCU: What was your favorite class this past semester?
RS: Sociology. My teacher made it fun. I met a lot of people I would not talk to normally. It was a really good class.
SCU: So, now that you are done with high school - what do you do with your summer? Will you and your family go on a vacation?
RS: I am going to be here for the full summer, but I am going home this weekend for the 4th of July for my brother's birthday. My brother Rodney is turning 13 and I am looking forward to seeing my family. Rodney doesn't know yet - he'll be surprised!
SCU: You are living in the Bay Area now: home of the Giants, 49ers, A's, Raiders, etc. Do you root for Los Angeles professional sports teams? Who?
RS: The Lakers. My favorite player is Kobe Bryant because he is competitive, works hard and he is always in the gym trying to get better. I became a Cleveland fan when LeBron James came around. I can't wait for LeBron and Shaq to play together. Shaq is going to have to get in better shape to run with LeBron.
LeBron would win in a one-on-one with Kobe because he's so quick.
I also root for the Yankees and for the Raiders.
SCU: You have played open gym a few times with the Bronco players. Who impressed you?
RS: Kevin Foster. He is so competitive. He always wants to win and he pushes me. He is my roommate, so he has talked to me about what to do and what not to do. The way I play, I am going to help his game - I hope. He is really good.
SCU: He hit 85 three pointers last year as a freshman. With you at the 1 and Kevin at the 2 - can he make more?
RS: Oh yes I hope so. I am fast and I like to defend really hard. I can dish the ball to him and hopefully he will be open to make shots. He finds a way to be open. I really enjoy playing with him. He will make me better.
SCU: Any predictions for this next year?
RS: (smiling big) We have a chance to play in the WCC Championship.
SCU: What were a couple reasons you chose Santa Clara?
RS: My relationship with the coaches, and the opportunity to start right away. And the team is up and coming and it is something I want to be a part of. I was offered by Cal, USC, Nebraska - but I felt like I fit in here best. I really like the team and the coaches.
SCU: Is there anything Coach Keating has said to you that has stuck in your mind?
RS: Be honest and be on time. He has said a lot of things to me. I have known him since I was a freshman in high school. He has had a big impact on me.
SCU: What are you most looking forward to about college? Any idea what you will major in?
RS: Playing basketball in a college game and the college atmosphere. I am undecided on what I want to major in.
SCU: It will be fun to look at this four years from now. What do you want to do when you graduate from Santa Clara?
RS: I want to play in the NBA, but if not I either want to be a basketball coach or an announcer on ESPN. I like all the announcers on ESPN. I like watching SportsCenter.
SCU: Who is your favorite college player?
RS: Jeff Teague from Wake Forest. He is so explosive and he knows how to run a team. I watch out for his games and I want to model after him. And of course John Bryant.
SCU: So if you had John Bryant and yourself - who else would you want in your starting five on your own dream team?
RS: John Bryant as the center. Stephen Curry, cause he can shoot. Demar Derozan from USC and Johnny Flynn of Syracuse. We'd be really good. A lot of shooters and John to rebound.
SCU: OK - this will be a favorites question. Favorite color? Movie? TV show? Book?
Movie: Above the Rim - I've seen it a thousand times
TV Show: ESPN
SCU: Anybody you want to throw a shout-out to?
RS: I want to say hello to my mom, Yolanda Swayzer. She pushed me a lot academically growing up. She is a single parent. I saw how hard she worked to make sure my brother and I learned so I worked hard for her in school. In basketball I worked hard to get a scholarship so she wouldn't have to pay for my college. I am fortunate she is my mother.
SCU: What has impressed you about Santa Clara so far?
RS: I like to meet new people, and I like the weather out here. The college students and the people in the stores are nice and friendly.
I also like working out with Joe Siara, our strength coach. I want to gain about five pounds of muscle this summer and I can already tell the difference in the two weeks I've worked out with him.
SCU: What are two things you would like to do in the next year?
RS: I want to take the team to the NCAA Tournament, and learn how to play tennis. Wimbledon is on TV a lot right now so I am starting to like it more. Niyi Harrison and I go in the lockerroom after lifting with Joe Siara; and watch Wimbledon. It's growing on me. They are really quick. I am not sure I could get the ball over the net like they can.
SCU: What's a sport you wish you could play?
RS: Besides tennis, I wish I could play baseball. I know I could dominate in football (smiles).
SCU: Anything else you want to add?
RS: I want to thank Uncle Rodney, my mom's brother. He is like a dad to me, he raised me a lot and traveled with me wherever I went, and he never let me down, and I love him.
I also want to say something to my brother Ivan: keep working hard on the football field and in the classroom and one day you will make it. He is 17 and he is going to community college, but he wants to play Division I someday so I want to tell him to keep working hard.