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Going out on top

Flintridge Prep center Kenyatta Smith's final high school season was also his finest

April 05, 2011|By Charles Rich,
  • Kenyatta Smith of Flintridge Prep is the 2010-2011 All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year.
Kenyatta Smith of Flintridge Prep is the 2010-2011 All-Area… (Raul Roa, Glendale…)

Kenyatta Smith didn't have to wonder all that much to find the performance he deemed the worst game of his career.

Smith, the towering center for the Flintridge Prep boys' basketball team, reflected back on a first-round playoff game last season. It was one in which he scored one point in the fourth-seeded Rebels' 46-44 upset loss to Santa Clara.

Smith had hit rock bottom. It only proved to be temporarily.

"I had a terrible feeling scoring one point and I could have made a difference and we could have won that game had I made a couple of more baskets," Smith said. "It stuck with me for some time and I made it a goal of mine never to do that again.

"I wasn't going to let it affect me going into my senior year and I chose to use it as positive motivation. I knew that I had to work on my overall game some more and put more hours in the gym working out right up to the season opener."


The power of positive thinking and an overall improved game on both ends of the floor buoyed Smith, who regrouped nicely by providing a physical presence and becoming a dominating force for the Rebels this season. Smith averaged 19.6 points, 14.8 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game and played a large role in helping Flintridge Prep capture the program's first CIF championship in March.

The Harvard University-bound Smith also led the Rebels to a share of the Prep League championship with rival Pasadena Poly and picked up a slew of individual awards. It's for each of those reasons that the 6-foot-8 Smith was named the All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year by the editors and sportswriters of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

"The entire team helped me get better this year," said Smith, who was named the league's most valuable player before earning the All-CIF V-AA Division Player of the Year and the prestigious John R. Wooden High School Player of the Year Award for CIF Southern Section Division V. "We played hard as a team.

"I could see the potential that we had. We knew after the first couple of practices leading up to this season that we could win CIF. Everybody was determined and recognized that it could become a reality as we got closer."

Smith never came close to finishing a game with one point this season. Smith raised his level of play in the playoffs, also, as he averaged 22.6 points and 16 rebounds per game in seven postseason appearances.

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