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Boca Raton’s Wyatt Smith is hoping to take his game to the next level.
The recent Boca Raton High School graduate wants to play college basketball and he is still searching for a destination. Smith wanted to make the most of his summer opportunities on the hardwood.
The 18-year-old Smith did just that playing an important role with the South Florida Sonics boys’ varsity basketball travel team in helping it fashion a 20-2 overall record, four championships and 12 straight wins to finish the season.
The latest title came in the Champions Challenge in which the South Florida Sonics finished 5-0 and won the Boys’ Varsity Championship with a 74-51 win over ME Elite (Miami) at Somerset Academy Key in Coral Springs.
“It is great coming to tournaments like this, getting off shots in front of all these people, and putting on a show,” said Smith, who started playing basketball in the fifth grade. “Most importantly, I am trying to get noticed during this pandemic and trying to get into a great school.”
Smith said he spent the summer getting up early in the day and putting up shots to perfect his craft.
“I want to play in college,” he said. “I go on Twitter sometimes and reach out to college coaches and playing in tournaments like this also helps. I will also go on Instagram and DM coaches too. I will send my film and I also use HUDL (a Nebraska-based company providing tools for coaches and athletes to review game footage and improve team play).”
Smith started off his high school career at Boca High and transferred to Grandview Prep for his junior year before returning to finish off his career with the Bobcats. He averaged 13.1 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.
Smith said COVID-19 interrupted the recruiting process last year and it has been an uphill grind trying to get noticed by the college coaches. Tournaments were curtailed last season and colleges were able to add an extra year of eligibility in some instances limiting opportunities.
“That was sort of tough, but if you put in the work to perfect your skills so that you can be better than the players they have now, you shouldn’t have to worry about a thing,” he said. “I want to take their spot. I want to put him on the bench and have me start. That is the mentality I like to have.
“I want to play defense,” Smith said. “I want to be a good leader on defense. If a screen is coming, I am going to yell it out. The same thing on offense, I will tell them to cut that way and I will find you. I am the person that is going to have a voice. This is 100% fun, man. I love it.”
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The Champions Challenge featured 48 teams from the tri-county area. The divisions included girls’ sixth grade, girls’ seventh/eighth grade, girls’ high school, along with four boys’ divisions: sixth grade, seventh/eighth grade, JV and high school.
Adam Liberman, coach and founder of the South Florida Sonics, said he was pleased with his team’s performance in the tournament. Liberman, who lives in Boynton Beach, said the varsity team consisted of mostly high school seniors, a couple of recent graduates and some younger players.
Liberman said they also have a 9th-grade team. That squad finished runner-up to the Wellington Wolves, 55-42, in the boys’ JV championship.
“We just want to get them playing, get them better and have fun,” he said. “We want them to compete. The kids want to play. We do like five or six travel tournaments in the spring and then two or three in the summer.”
Tournament director Marcus McGee said his organization holds camps, tournaments and showcases for players of all ages. All of the games in the tournament were live-streamed to give participants maximum exposure.
“Our primary goals are to highlight the skills, talents and successes of our players while creating a channel that provides them opportunities to secure scholarships and attend accredited colleges/universities,” said McGee, who played collegiately at the University of Central Florida.