2019’s Zach Smith touts an impressive mix of athleticism and fundamentals | Youth1

2019’s Zach Smith touts an impressive mix of athleticism and fundamentals

Zach Smith is one of the best players from the Poplar Springs, FL area in the Class of 2019.


The 6-foot-2, 187-pound Smith, who attends Poplar Springs High School, is a dynamic player that works as a shooting guard and small forward.


Smith has earned plenty of recognition during his outstanding career, such as being chosen to play for the 2019 All-Star Classic East Team


Smith is humbled by the accolade.


“I feel very honored to be selected to play on the all-star team,” Smith said. “ I could not have accomplished all I have done without the help of my teammates.”


No matter the opponent, every game Smith is determined to give it his all.


Smith is going all out.


The motor is always at full throttle whenever Smith steps between the lines.


“My mindset is moving away from the ball and getting open,” Smith said. “I want to make my opponent have to work for anything they get on the court when I’m out there.”


Smith has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the hardwood. Smith tells why he enjoys the game of basketball so much.


“When I’m on the court I’m not thinking of anything else at that time, and I love getting to play with my friends,” Smith said.


Smith has learned many valuable lessons from playing basketball that he applies to his everyday life.


The main one is applying perspective to all situations.


“I have learned that you win some and you lose some,” Smith said. “This teaches me to keep doing my best and as long as I do that I am okay with the outcome.”


Smith recalls his favorite basketball memory.


“My senior year has been my best memory so far,” Smith said. “We made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1975.”


Jared Owen has coached Smith for four years at Poplar Springs.


Owen explains the best parts of Smith’s game.


“Zach plays the forward position for us. He is strong enough and jumps really high and quick so he can play more of a power forward and score inside when needed. He also plays the small forward spot as he can shoot the 3-point shot as well as use his incredible driving ability to score,” Owen said. “Zach’s ability to finish strong inside has to be noted by other teams. Once they try to that away he can step out and shoot the three or penetrate to create for himself and his teammates.”

Smith takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. Smith makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.


“I try to be a good teammate by lifting up my teammates and always encouraging them to do their best,” Smith said. “I encouraged them to always keep their heads up and not give up.”


Owen adds that Smith is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.


“Zach is not a very vocal person by nature, so his leadership style is one that comes from a foundation of showing up and doing the job, whatever that job is,” Owen said. “He is an extremely hard worker and cares about what he is doing on the court. If you are on his team, you have to match his level of work ethic because that is what it takes to be successful.”


Smith is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.


“My coaches have always pushed me to get the best out of me, and taught me to be a leader in life,” Smith said. “They tell me to do my best, never give up, and play hard.”


Owen is an advocate of Smith’s capabilities.

“One of the nice things about coaching a player like Zach was when we needed a bucket, we’d almost always go to him and that centered around getting the ball inside. He understood where his advantage was. I don’t know that I can point to one game and say look at this one play because Zach affected each game,” Owen said. ”He scored over 20 points in almost half of our games. Zach did such a good job of helping us establish our presence in the paint which in the game of basketball is a huge deal. He knew that if he had an off night it would lead to us struggling and he gladly bore that weight each game.”


In addition to making clutch plays, Smith also has a high level of basketball IQ as well.


Smith has excellent basketball awareness that puts him in position to thrive.


“He is a smart player that understands how to use fundamentals to be effective,” Owen said.


Smith is on the grind to perfect and hone his craft in any way possible.


“Zach loves basketball. Any time you love something you will work at it and he is a testament to that. Zach doesn’t like to be second best and uses that to push himself,” Owen said. “One area where Zach really improved over this past year was his strength. He spent the summer, preseason, and the season in the weight room which allowed him to grab rebounds and finish strong under the rim.”

Owen explains why he compares Smith to this legend.


“I would compare Zach to Grant Hill as a player. Grant Hill was a solid scorer who also got him teammates involved,” Owen said. “On top of that he was a phenomenal athlete that would guard you with a fierceness. Grant led his team with a certain toughness and I see those traits in Zach.”


Smith patterns his mentality after this Hall of Fame member.


“Larry Bird because he showed that you don’t always have to be the most athletic player to be one of the best,” Smith said.


Smith is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.


“I want to be the best player I can be, and to be the best person I can be,” Smith said.


Smith explains his collegiate aspirations.


“If I could play at any college, it would be a D1 school with a great environment,” Smith said.  


Smith lists history as his favorite subject in school.


“I like learning about past and how life used to be,” Smith said.


Owen outlines the areas of improvement that will take Smith to the next level.


“Two areas that Zach has worked on and continues to work on are finishing inside better and shooting the 3-point shot. Zach’s points per game went up from 13 to close to 19 this year as a by-product of him working on these two areas,” Owen said. “His 3-point percentage went up seven percent this past year because he spent more time shooting and perfecting his shot. He had four games where he hit three-plus threes this year. Because of his focus on scoring inside more efficiently and two-foot finishes he attempted 158 free throws for us this past year.”


Owen believes the sky is the limit as long as Smith continues to stay hungry.  


“Zach is blessed with great athleticism. He can jump as quick and high as anyone we would go against. This athletic ability is great, but he also understands the fundamentals of the game both mentally and the physically. He can beat you in more than one way and that makes him dangerous,” Owen said. “He’s played in many big games/moments and doesn’t back down. Zach wants to play basketball at the college level somewhere and he is more than capable of finding a team and helping them win at the college level.”



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