West Chester East High School senior Kyle Smith has a diligence about him that commands your respect. It’s a rarity if his laser-sharp focus is ever diverted, and that’s exhibited on a daily basis not only in the classroom, but on the golf course and basketball court as well where he currently holds it down for the Vikings. Smith is just like his brothers, Matt and Zack, a three-point marksman that will have your team’s head coach ruefully reviewing the game tape if you don’t scheme for him correctly.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Kyle since he was a freshman, and I’ve witnessed the maturation process he’s undergone since those days of being the undersized freshman talking to the crazy senior sporting a purple Los Angeles Lakers jumpsuit with purple and gold scores down the sides. The underdog no more, Kyle is now on top, and ready to do his thing as the main mutt on the block.
Kyle is gearing up for what he hopes to be a successful senior season, and I had the opportunity to speak to him via text about his upcoming senior campaign as the Vikings’ starting point guard. Kyle and I spoke about what he thinks it’s going to be like playing under a new head coach, some of his goals for this upcoming year, and about the legacy of the Smith Brother’s as shooters.
Q: What’s the most important thing being a high school athlete has taught you?
KS: Time management. Having the opportunity to play three varsity sports has allowed me to evaluate my values in life as a high school student and apply my time accordingly. Despite the difficulty of balancing the work I put into all three sports and academics, I have been able to accomplish quite a lot in just a quick three years of high school.
Q: Do you think your senior year will be the most challenging yet in terms of basketball?
KS: Absolutely not. Regardless of the challenges I may have to deal with this year, the work I have put towards the game of basketball over the past 15 years is going to show. My senior year is nothing more than an opportunity to thrive as a veteran on the court. As a freshman and sophomore, I had to deal with the challenge of being undersized. Over the offseason, I have had the time to prepare in order to get my ball handling, defensive skills, offensive awareness, jumpshot, etc. to a level it had never been before. However, my hopes for this season are high, so this will be the most challenging season of basketball relative to my goals for the team.
Q: And what are those goals?
KS: Individually, I would like to be a legitimate threat behind the 3-point line. Also, I need to limit my turnovers and facilitate as the point guard. It would be unfair and selfish to put a number on my goals in terms of points and assists per game because I want to help my team win games by any means necessary. As a team, my goal is nothing short of a district and state playoff berth. In any case, we need to win as many basketball games as we can. The goal is to fight to win every game and we need to be near-sighted in that regard.
Q: Legendary coach Eric Anderson resigned, and now there will be a new face patrolling the sidelines for East. How do you guys feel about Anderson’s departure, and how big of an adjustment is it for you to play with a new head coach in your senior year?
KS: After Coach E left, everybody was nervous and curious as to who would take his place. After Coach Cowles was hired, the guys were definitely excited. Coach Cowles, along with several new coaches, bring a lot of energy and intelligence to the sidelines. Many of my teammates were definitely upset with Coach Anderson’s departure, but everyone is excited to play under Coach Cowles. He brings a different philosophy on both sides of the court. It is without a doubt a huge adjustment learning under the tutelage of a new coach. Between offensive strategies, defensive schemes, and patrolling of practices, it will definitely be different this year. However, the offseason workouts and tournaments have definitely helped transition to a new coach.
Q: Which teams do you feel present the greatest challenge to you guys?
KS: In the Ches-Mont National Division, no one can look past Downingtown West’s height and core group of guys that led them to a Ches-Mont championship last season. Coatesville always presents a challenge with their consistent athleticism and size. Finally, Shanahan will definitely give us a couple of good games with their strong group of seniors this year.
Q: Have you developed any rivalries within the Chest-Mont during your tenure at East?
KS: There’s definitely some pride and tradition in the East vs. Henderson rivalry. Going back to when my brother’s days watching those games year after year, I have developed an appreciate for the rivalry. Whether it be when East beat Henderson in 2010 behind Eddie Anderson’s 21 points as a sophomore or Henderson winning in overtime in 2014, the crosstown rivalrly has been great. This past year, we definitely didn’t play like we wanted to, but I am looking forward for the opportunity to sweep Henderson this season. The Ches-Mont National has presented some small rivalries, but nothing can top the tradition involved in the East vs. Henderson basketball rivalry.
Q: Are the Smith Brothers the greatest shooters West Chester East has ever seen?
KS: Haha…I’d like to think we have left a pretty good legacy behind the 3-point line at East. I can tell you for sure that it was difficult growing up with two dead-eye shooters as brothers. Being undersized trying to defend a couple of lights out shooters as a little kid was always a tall task. My brothers have always driven me to become as good a shooter as a could. The goal for this season: live up to the legacy my brothers have given to me. My brothers and I love to live by the words of Jay Wright, “Shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets.”
Q: Lastly, who are some of your biggest athletic inspirations?
KS: Rory McIlroy…I admire Rory for so much more than just his skill on the golf course. From a young age, Rory had all the talent in the world. He quickly became a PGA Tour star. However, what I admire most about McIlroy is the work he put in to get his body into the best shape possible. He completely bought into becoming healthy, putting himself in great shape, and doing whatever he can to be the best golfer possible. The dedication he put forth has shown as he quickly became the World’s No. 1.
Steph Curry…Steph inspired me from a young age. Watching him light up the 2008 NCAA Tournament was unbelievable. His success was inevitable because of the work he put in and the humility he shows. Steph has overcome odds his entire life. Being a 3-star, low Division I recruit out of high school is not easy when you have the high D-1 talent. He has proved everyone wrong in his climb to the MVP of the NBA. I envy his pursuit from a 6’2″ 165 lbs high school recruit to arguably the best player in the world. His control of the basketball on the court and his ability to create shots from the perimeter constantly inspires me to become a better point guard.
Smith and the West Chester East Vikings will kick off their season on Dec. 4 with a non-conference away game against Interboro of Prospect Park, Pa. Smith plans to attend college after high school, and although he’s currently undecided as to which institution he’ll further his education at, Penn State, Temple and St. Joe’s are some of his top choices.
If you want to hit Kyle with a follow on Twitter, his handle is @KyleSmi1h.