Former Chico High basketball star talks about transfer to Pitt

Aug 7, 2015 9:34 PM by Ross Field

Sterling Smith is on the move. A transfer from a small school to a big-time college program as the former Chico High basketball star ready for the new season. Action News Now's Ross Field has the story.

"It definitely feels good to back in the gym where it all got started you know," said Sterling Smith, as he practiced shooting at the Panther Pit on the Chico High campus.

As a senior in 2011, Sterling Smith was unstoppable for Chico High, averaging 23 points-per-game for a team that went 27-2 and won a section title.

But like several athletes from the area, Smith was overlooked by college scouts.

"I've always thought coming out of high school I was under-recruited. I didn't get to take the visits, I didn't go through the process of say a McDonald's All-American or a 4-5 star recruit," said Smith.

Smith spent the following year at Redemption Christian Academy, a post-graduate prep school in New York.

He played one season there and averaged 21 and 10 rebounds-per-game. Then he landed an offer from Coppin State and jumped at the opportunity.

"It wa not a smooth journey you know but it ended up working out," said Smith.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder played three years with the Eagles and each season he got better.

In 2014-2015, he pumped in 14 points-per-game while knocking down 42-percent of his three-point attempts.

But Coppin State finished the year with an 8-23 record, which led to the firing of long-time head coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell.

That's when Smith decided to transfer and some big-time programs came calling.

"I got to take some visits to the some of the bigger schools, like Wake Forest and Louisville, met some of those coaches, and it was great. I got to experience how it felt to be wanted," says Smith.

But nobody expressed as much interest in him as Pittsburgh and head coach Jamie Dixon.

"I felt like he was the one who wanted me the most. I got to the airport and he's walking me through security making sure I get on the plane. Then he called my father and phoned anybody that's close to me, so that kind of sold me on that really," says Smith.

Smith signed with Pitt and will have one year of eligibility remaining. He's fired up to play in the ACC, one of the toughest conferences in the country.

"Playing with the best competition night-in and night-out, guys that are getting drafted year after year, I think it's a good opportunity for me to go in there and prove that I can play at the top level with everybody else," says Smith.

Last season Pitt finished 19-15 overall, but with four returning starters, Smith says they'll have a good shot of making it to the NCAA Tournament.

"I've always wanted to play in the tournament, it's been a dream since I was in fourth or fifth grade," said Smith. "I only have one year left, so it's go hard or go home this year and I'm definitely grateful for the opportunity."


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