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Calvert’s Smith signs with Drexel

By AJ MASON

Staff writer

Many who have seen Alexis Smith over the years know that she has amazing speed and ever-lasting energy, just like the Energizer bunny.

As soon as the ball comes out, she’s down on the other side at the basket.

With her wiry 5-foot-7 frame and lethal scoring ability, along with an aggressive defensive style, Smith has been causing problems for opposing teams since she was a freshman.

Now as a senior, Smith has led the Calvert girls basketball team to back-to back Class 2A state titles, been SMAC’s Most Outstanding Player and All-County Athlete of the Year the last two seasons.

With still more to add to her impressive resume, Smith recently fulfilled her dream of playing Division I women’s basketball, signing a letter of intent to Drexel University, a member of the Colonial Athletic Association in Philadelphia.

“I’m stoked right now,” Smith said with a smile. “Growing up I’ve always wanted to be able to play college basketball. I’m really excited; all the hard work has definitely paid off.”

Smith had an array of Division I offers, including East Carolina, Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University, Seton Hall and Delaware, but felt that Drexel was the perfect fit.

“The campus is really nice, the coaches were just phenomenal and made me feel right at home,” said Smith, who signed on Nov. 19. “I fell in love with the school when I visited there.”

“I tickled right now,” said Rodney Smith, Alexis’ father. “We did a lot of traveling to AAU games and she put in a lot of work. The whole family has sacrificed for her and it’s just a blessing to see her play at the next level and get a education.”

Smith started playing at the age of 7 for Upward Basketball,

“There are two things that I will have to say about Alexis,” said Frank Moore, the former Calvert head girls basketball coach who is now in his first season as the Northern boys frontrunner. “No. 1 is that she will go down as one of the best players ever in our conference. No. 2 she will go down as one of the top players to ever to play in Calvert County. I’m proud of all of her hard work, she’s had a great career and she is a nice young lady.”

Moore mentioned on what Smith will bring to Drexel’s program.

“Alexis can get out in transition and one of her best qualities is her defense,” he said. “She’s just a great athlete. I think this season she can help the team win a third straight state title.”

Smith wanted to give a tribute to her lifelong friend Ryvell Jones, a 2009 Calvert graduate and member of the basketball team who passed away unexpectedly in the summer of 2010.

“He was like my big brother, we would play at the rec [center] and he always gave me advice,” Smith said. “I know he would be really proud of me.”

Smith mentioned that her grandmother Vivian Hawkins often played with her outside on the court to keep her motivated.

“My grandmother has always been there for me and has always supported me,” Smith said. “She definitely has been an inspiration in my life.”

While getting the college attention during her high school career, Smith had also been exposed to the AAU circuit which has helped her tremendously.

She played for the Lady Pearls AAU team this past summer for head coach Ardell Jackson and played AAU for the Southern Maryland Storm under coach Bea Weems during the years leading up to high school.

“It’s amazing to watch her play,” Weems said. “Today is a big day I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

Jackson is entering his second season as head coach of the Westlake girls basketball team. Smith’s Cavaliers downed Jackson’s Wolverines on Wednesday night in a nonconference contest, 68-50, at Calvert Middle School in Prince Frederick.

“She’s going to be a legit Division I basketball player,” Jackson said. “Drexel pushes the ball, so I think that it is a very good fit for her.”

With first-year head coach Tim Contee, a 2003 Calvert graduate on board, Smith is hungry for a three-peat while having individual goals.

“I want to break the county [scoring] record,” said Smith, which is held by Northern alum Jen Mitchell with 1,806 points and second to Mitchell is 2011 Huntingtown graduate Kaula Jacks with 1,656 career points. “I want to be an All-American, and I think we can win it all again this season. We lost some key seniors, but we still have a core of the team back.”

Smith recently broke the school record in a 77-38 season-opening win versus visiting Leonardtown, which was held by Whitney Johnson, who was tied with Bruce Bolley, with 1,492 points. Entering that contest, Smith had 1,484 points and finished with 22 points in the win. In Wednesday night’s victory over Westlake, Smith scored 20 points to reach 1,602 points.

Smith is 55 points from moving into second place all time and is 205 from Mitchell’s all-time county record.

The head coach for Drexel is Denise Dillon, who has led the Dragons to five consecutive winning seasons. Drexel is currently 7-4 this season after a 19-14 finish last season.

ajmason@somdnews.com