By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Home for the Holidays: Former Chestatee standout out now, but hasn't stopped working
Former Chestatee star Parker Smith (30) goes up for a shot against Eastern Kentucky in his freshmen year at Tennessee State.
For former Chestatee shooting guard Parker Smith, basketball has always been a way of life.

He began his career for the War Eagles by scoring 46 points in his ninth grade team’s season opener against Gilmer and finished as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 2,038 points — 934 in his senior season alone.

Smith led Chestatee to its first and only two state tournament appearances, and his play garnered attention from Division-I colleges.

After deciding on Tennessee State, Smith spent his freshman season doing exactly what he’d done at Chestatee: playing and scoring.

“I’ve gotten better defensively,” Smith said. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger, and stronger with the ball, and I’ve become a more all-around player instead of just a good shooter.”

He averaged 19 minutes and nine points per game while shooting 81 percent from the free throw line, 41 percent from the 3-point line and 40 percent from the field.

“Playing in college makes you feel like a big-time player because of all the perks and the TV time,” Smith said. “But it also becomes more of a job in college.

“They’re essentially paying for you to be there, so you need to give it your all every chance you get.”

Cy Alexander, Smith’s coach at Tennessee State, was fired before the end of Smith’s freshman year after five seasons at the helm of the program.

That decision prompted Smith to transfer to North Florida for his sophomore year.

“My roomate was transferring and so were my closest teammates on the team,” Smith said. “I thought it would be better to go ahead and do it, to start fresh, instead of waiting another year.”

Because Smith transferred from a Division-I program to another at the same level, he’s having to sit out a year.

“It hasn’t been fun, but the outcome of a situation like this depends on how you look at it in the first place,” said Smith of having to sit out a year. “I’m working on things that I’m not good at right now and focusing on my academics.

“Having to be on the bench and watch games is awful for me, but I feel like I’m not losing anything because I still get to practice and I’m really working hard.”

Along with not being able to play in games, Smith is also prohibited from travelling with the team, which recently departed on a 10-day road trip.

While Smith wishes he was with his team, the pre-Christmas jaunt for North Florida means that he got to come home for what is in essence, a regular student’s holiday break.

“I miss home-cooked meals and getting to beat on my little brother,” Smith said. “I’ve been going and watching him play for Chestatee and hanging out with friends and family.”

Smith has also been diligent about keeping up with his game.

He works out and plays basketball every morning before filling the rest of his time with those people he doesn’t see much during the school year.

As for what the six-foot, five-inch shooting guard wants for Christmas?

“I didn’t ask for anything,” he said. “I wanted to let my family surprise me.

“I got some money (from my mother’s side of the family), so I bought a TV.”

And on his long-term wishlist is getting back on the court in a meaningful fashion.

““I hope to be one of the top scorers and play a lot of minutes next year,” Smith said. “There aren’t many older guys on the team that have the college experience I have, so I should be able to step in and contribute immediately.”
Friends to Follow social media