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What Wanisha Smith Means To Duke

Lost in the hype surrounding the Candace Parker decision is the fact
that Duke just assured itself of a top-5 class thanks to Wanisha Smith
committing to Duke. The Chronicle's Catherine Sullivan weighs in here. Wanisha is a classic
combo guard and a consensus top-15 player, with one service ranking her
as high as #6. As a junior, she averaged 21.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4 apg, and 4
spg and has always been an outstanding free throw shooter. I saw her play
at the Deep South Classic last May, and though I wasn't scouting her
specifically, she did stand out. Here's what I said at the time:

"I saw a showdown between two of the top 30 players in the country: guards
Sparkle Davis and Wanisha Smith. Davis is from Atlanta and has already
committed to Auburn, while Smith moved from Ohio to Washington, DC. Davis
did not look like a top prospect in this game, missing most of her shots
badly. On the other hand, Smith was smooth and in control. She wasn't a
great shooter, but dominated the game action thanks to her penetration,
defense and passing."

The reason why Smith is so important to Duke is simple: Alana Beard is
graduating. Duke badly needed a big, athletic guard who could handle the
ball and slash to the basket. That's exactly what Duke will be getting in
Wanisha, an old friend and former AAU teammate of Brittany Hunter. With
both Beard and Vicki Krapohl graduating, a lot of playing time will open
up next year, and the Devils will need the versatile Smith to play at both
guard spots. Wanisha will back up both Lindsey Harding and Jessica Foley,
bringing more of a scoring mentality than Harding and more of a physical
presence than Foley. This means that she will be an excellent change of
pace to the game when she gets in. Smith will also nicely complement
fellow frosh Laura Kurz, a 2-3 who is a fine shooter & rebounder who moves
well without the ball.

Wanisha's national profile went up over the summer thanks to a series of
strong performances at AAU events and at the Olympic Development Festival. She was the third-leading
scorer on the Gold Medal-winning East squad, scoring 10 ppg. Smith didn't
shoot that well (32%) from the field, but got to the free throw line and
converted when she got there (18-20 for 90%). As an aside, her squad was
jammed with ACC recruits: Laura Harper & Crystal Langhorne for Maryland,Sharnee Zoll for Virginia, Christie Marrone for Virginia Tech, and
Khadijah Whittington for NC State (not a lock yet, but they lead).

I predict that Smith will have a significant impact right away, probably
as a top reserve at first, though more is certainly possible. Her friendship
with Monique Currie (a DC native) was a factor in her coming here, and I
expect them to mesh well together on the court. The class of Kurz, Smith
and Chante' Black adds athleticism and a high skill level to the Duke
program. Welcome to all three!