Las Vegas boys basketball coach Jason Wilson rattled off all the reasons for junior Re’Kwon Smith’s improvement, and there were plenty.
But Wilson saved the most important for last.
“For me, I’m most impressed and happy with his motor,” Wilson said. “Last year, he would play in spurts for two or three minutes and then disappear. Now, he plays hard nearly every minute of the game.”
Smith, a 6-foot-7-inch swingman, has been regarded as one of the top players in the class of 2015 since he displayed his potential on the tournament circuit last spring and summer. This season, he is backing up the lofty rankings, leading the Wildcats (13-2) in nearly every offensive category.
“Something clicked over the summer,” Wilson said. “It’s scary to think he’s only halfway through his junior season. He’s improved so much.”
Smith is averaging 26.5 points and tops the Wildcats in rebounds, steals and blocked shots. As a sophomore, he was Las Vegas’ third-leading scorer at 10.8 points per game.
Smith finished with 29 points Tuesday as Las Vegas defeated host Green Valley 74-59 in the Northeast League opener.
Smith is ranked the No. 45 junior nationally by Scout.com and No. 66 by Rivals.com. Last week, he dominated at the Foothill Holiday Classic, averaging 26.8 points in four games as Las Vegas finished third in the Gold Division.
Only Foothill had an answer for Smith, holding him to 14 points in the semifinals.
“They had a good game plan against him,” Wilson said.
Smith has scholarship offers from Arizona, Arizona State, California, New Mexico, Northern Arizona, Oklahoma, Oregon, San Diego State, Southern California and UNLV. In the spring, he will join big men Stephen Zimmerman and Chase Jeter of Bishop Gorman on a Dream Vision AAU team that will be heavily scouted.
“Last year, I remember talking to one of the other coaches on staff … and after four or five games I said this kid could end up being the best kid I’ve ever coached,” Wilson said. “You could just see something.”
■ STARKS PICKS BRUINS — Former Bishop Gorman running back Nathan Starks, a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, made an oral commitment to UCLA last week.
Starks was dismissed from Gorman in April and transferred to Cherry Creek (Colo.) for his senior season. After sitting out the first six games of the season, Starks was granted eligibility in Colorado. He ran for 458 yards (8.6 yards per carry) and nine touchdowns and caught eight passes for 77 yards and a TD in six games.
Starks participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday at San Antonio, rushing three times for 17 yards. The West team, coached by Bishop Gorman’s Tony Sanchez, won 28-6.
■ OBLAD, CRAM HONORED — Coronado middle blocker Berkeley Oblad was named one of the top 50 juniors in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. The 6-foot-3-inch Oblad, who helped the Cougars to the Division I state title, made an oral commitment to Utah.
Bonanza junior outside hitter Sophie Cram was included in PrepVolleyball.com’s next 35 recruits. She has committed to Brigham Young.