0323SMITHAUDParker Smith talks about his career at Chestatee High.
Parker Smith sure knows how to ruin a good surprise.
Right out of the gate, everyone knew about the talent of the wiry Chestatee High freshman when he scored 46 points in the ninth-grade season opener against Gilmer. After that, War Eagles basketball fans and coaches had little question as to what kind of player he could become down the road in his high school career.
And he certainly didn’t disappoint.
Even though Smith, a four-year varsity player, had to wait his turn to be a major contributor on the varsity level, he finally got his chance as a junior, and promptly led the War Eagles to their first two state playoff appearances in the school’s history.
“This season was really exciting to help take this program to the next level,” Smith said. “I enjoyed playing with all my teammates — it was just a lot of fun.”
In the end, Smith, who has signed with Tennessee State University, shattered Chestatee’s scoring record, leaving the school with 2,038 career points, including 934 points as a senior. Smith has also been selected to play in the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association North/South All-Star game at Savannah State University on March 30.
And now he can add The Times 2008 Boys Basketball Player of the Year to his list of accomplishments.
His forte was his precision shooting. Smith shot 57 percent on 2-point shots as a senior, and 56 percent on 3-pointers this season. With his incomparable ability to shoot the ball at a high percentage, it became the norm for opposing defenses to be focused almost entirely on smothering Chestatee’s main scoring threat, especially during the playoffs.
“Parker’s ability to score changed the way the game was prepared for, changed the way the game was played, and changed the way people talked about the game afterward,” War Eagles coach Russ Triaga said.
But it wasn’t just one big game that highlighted Smith’s career with the War Eagles, it was the sum of all its parts. As a total team player, Smith could knock down shots from pretty much anywhere, with or without an open look, and he could also grab rebounds and take on the other team’s best player in the paint.
His career high scoring was 53 points this season at Johnson. He finished his career at Chestatee scoring 40 or more points in a game seven times, and more than 30 points in a game over 20 times, according to Triaga.
All that hard work paid off when he surpassed 2,000 points in his career against Gainesville in the Region 7-AAA tournament this season.
“It felt really good to finally get to 2,000 points,” Smith said. “If I would’ve been short of 2,000 it would’ve been a big let down.”
One of the reasons for his success this season was the fact that Smith was not having to worry about playing for a college scholarship.
He committed to TSU early, which allowed him to focus on what he loves most of all — playing basketball.
Smith was sold on the total package of playing for TSU, with the big-city atmosphere of going to school in Nashville, the coaching staff, direction of the program and the opportunity to play early in his career.
“Tennessee State got a steal with Parker Smith,” Triaga said. “There is so much he’ll be able to do for them.
“All that needs to be done is to create a shot for him.”
According to Smith, the opportunity to play at TSU trumped offers from schools like Air Force, Buffalo and Dartmouth, among others.
“That’s been my goal all along to get a college scholarship,” Smith said. “My whole life for 17 years has been put into getting better at basketball and working on what I needed to do to get better.”
According to Smith, he was literally nurtured into becoming a basketball player. He had a basketball in his crib before he could walk. And by the age of 2, he could dribble a basketball.
By the time he reached elementary school he was already a round ball junkie. He would go straight to a local recreation center after school to play basketball and then come home and immediately practice shooting in the driveway.
That same dedication continues to this day. He practices every day with the sentiment that there is always room to improve.
“He works much harder than people think,” Triaga said. “You very rarely get a chance to coach a player like Parker.”
And Smith isn’t just a star basketball player, he’s a straight-A student and in high-standing in his senior class and plans to major in education and coaching basketball in the future.
“Parker is just an unassuming, friendly kid who deflected the personal accolades,” Triaga said. “He’s been a great representative of our school and we’re all really proud of him.”