If you heard me talk about players in the past. Two words always comes up.. IMPROVEMENT CURVE. It’s that thing that so often determines the future of young players. Right now NO YOUNG PLAYER has had a bigger improvement curve than Little Silvers 6’0” forward SOPHIE SMITH.
Sophie Smith plays for the insanely gifted 2026 Shoreshots. She is part of the most talented class in the shore in 20 years. The 2026 class as I have told you is like no other in two decades. It’s a throw back to the 2012 class which had 23 D1 players. But the 2026 Shoreshots have a little added ingredient to this class. They are total unabashedly noted GYM RATS. They wear it like a badge of honor. The 2026 Shoreshots are in the gym 24/7/365. They eat, sleep and dream basketball. It also may be the reason Sophie Smith could very well, be on her way to being the best forward not only in the Shore but maybe the state one day. That because right now she is clearly the GOAT of grade school forwards.
Environments play a big role in a players development. Sophie Smith I met when she was in 3rd grade. I told her she was going to be special the first time I saw her dribble a basketball. She was athletic and quick. She had great lateral movement. She was a soccer player, so she was not afraid of contact. Her father Chris, played football at Boston College. The cards seemed lined up perfectly for Sophie Smith. But if the truth be told, I saw Sophie Smith a little here and a little there as she grew into her body. . When I did see her she barely said a word. She was quiet but always a hard worker. But there was no way I could have predicted what would come next.
4 years ago I watched as Sophie Smith joined the ShoreShots. She was raw and not very skilled. What she was, was long for days and as active as any player at that age, that I had seen since former SJV and American University star ARRON ZIMMERMAN. But things have happened along the way in the past year or two for Sophie Smith. Sophie Smith started showing up at the gym everyday. I started seeing her 6 days a week. It was then I discovered something about Sophie Smith. She really liked basketball and she liked it a lot. I found out she wanted to be really good at it as well. I also discovered that Sophie Smith was that young post player who not just liked the game but had a legit work ethic. That is rare and more rare was her natural athletic ability and learning curve. It seemed every time I watched Sophie she got better. I also liked that she wanted to be coached. I also realized I was right, she was going to be special.
Watching Sophie Smith this spring was shocking to me at times. That’s because she matched up with some of the best post players in the state this spring during her training sessions. D1 players like Megan Cahalan(Holy Cross) , Ally Carman(Boston College), Gia Pissott( Navy) just to name drop a few. What shocked was her total lack of fear and her competitive nature. She also was not afraid of the physical aspect of playing against older more mature players. I should have known it was a sign of what was to come.
During the AAU season this summer I watched the mega talented Shoreshots run their offense though Sophie Smith sometimes. It was shocking because if you know anything about the Shoreshots, they have kids who can get buckets. But yet here was “BIG” Sophie as she is called displaying her offense game. The jump hook, the dirty up and under, the drop step and the activity on the glass. She didn’t just out play other young post players, she dominated them. But what I love most about Sophie Smith and college coaches this is a peek into the future. She defended and helped on ball screens better than any post player I have seen currently in high school or grammar school and folks that’s a fact. Now after a great showing this spring and summer, Sophie could have taken a trip down easy street, chilled and bathed in her new found game success and that’s exactly what I thought she was doing in recent weeks… I WAS WRONG!
I hadn’t seen much of Sophie in the month of August except for the rare training session. If you know me, if your not in the gym with me I tend to say a kid is not working or lazy… everyone knows this. But it’s also funny when a kid says I’m training and I watch and the results are not there. I say your not being truthful or get a new trainer.
But here was Sophie Smith this fall and excuse my language… kicking ass and not taking prisoners. All the coaches at her training sessions keep saying the same things like … “wow Sophie Smith has gotten better”… then it was “Sophie Smith is the most improved grammar school player around”… then it became, “Sophie Smith is the best you forward around”…then it became “Sophie Smith is the best young forward in the state”… now it’s Sophie Smith is “the best young Stretch four coming into the shore”. The bottom line is Sophie is just really good and another D1 player entering RBC. That’s because the work she and former Monmouth University asst coach James Young have put in together has been like magic.
When James Young agreed to work with Sophie Smith. Here is what he gave her. Swag, footwork and patience. He also allowed her to develop a game outside 18 feet. All this has led to a crazy level of confidence and to a different player in Sophie Smith. Her work with James Young has allowed her to take her game individually to another level. These days Sophie Smith is making it look easy. These days Sophie Smith’s IMPROVEMENT CURVE is scary. The body language is elite, she is engaging, talks more and has put her personality out for all to see. This all comes with success and confidence… RIGHT NOW SOPHIE SMITH HAS ALL THAT…. in large part thanks to her relationship with James Young!
A local high school coach walked up to me yesterday. He said “ Sophie Smith is going to really help RBC this season” I quietly reminded him Sophie Smith was only in 8th grade. He said “ she going to be something else one day”….. I said “your right, she going to be the best big forward in the shore”…. they don’t call her BIG SOPHIE FOR NOTHING!