Bria Smith had signed a letter of intent last November to play at Virginia, but she opted to reopen her recruitment after the resignation of longtime Coach Debbie Ryan. Smith said she has received a release from her LOI from the Cavaliers.
Smith, who is from Massapequa, N.Y., said in a phone interview Thursday that she was keeping an open mind, and Virginia remained on her list of schools.
“Right now I am just looking for a good fit for me,” Smith said.
Smith will visit Tennessee later this month, and she said she would like to make a decision relatively soon and enroll in summer school to get a jumpstart on the 2011-12 season.
“I love the coaching staff,” Smith said when asked why Tennessee made the list. “Pat Summitt, what can you say about her? She is an icon of the game. I love that she would be able to teach me a lot about the game and elevate my game. That is the one part I like about Tennessee.
“And also there is a lot of support there. They have crazy fans. Everybody is pretty much at all of their games. That is pretty much what I like about Tennessee.”
Smith was part of the USA U17 World Championship team that won in France last summer, so she got to know Tennessee signees Ariel Massengale and Cierra Burdick. Smith, a 5’10 guard, could play at point or on the wing.
Re-opening her recruitment wasn’t part of Smith’s plan, but she has adjusted late in the process.
“I wouldn’t call it stressful, but it was a huge shock to me to find out that Coach Ryan, the coach that I would be playing for, she had to step down,” Smith said. “It was just a huge shock so right now I am taking this whole recruitment process day by day.”
Smith said she didn’t have a specific timetable to select a school but anticipated that she would enroll before the fall term.
“I think that I want to get there over the summer,” Smith said.
Smith also will not sign another LOI this spring – the regular signing period for basketball is April 13-May 18 – by terms of the National Letter of Intent. A prospective student-athlete can only sign one LOI in an academic year, which Smith had already done with Virginia. So, Smith will instead enroll at a four-year school as her binding process.
Tennessee has available scholarships, a total of three if inclined to take the roster to the max, because the Lady Vols signed three out of a possible four in the class of 2011, and Kelley Cain, a 6’6 redshirt junior, opted not to use her fifth year of eligibility for health reasons, and Lauren Avant, a 5’9 freshman point guard, decided to transfer to a smaller school and focus on her pre-med curriculum.
Smith, a McDonald’s and WBCA All-American, plays at Christ the King High School in Queens, New York, so she has the basketball pedigree to succeed at any top program in the country. Chamique Holdsclaw, a former Tennessee All-American and the Lady Vols first signee from New York, played at Christ the King.
“It’s an honor to go to the same high school that she went to and other greats have gone to,” Smith said. “I feel honored playing for Christ the King.”
Smith said her game plan now was to evaluate her choices and make the correct decision.
“I don’t think it would be too smart for anybody to rush into a decision, so I am just going to take it day by day and try to find the school with the greatest fit for me,” Smith said.