Former Walbrook forward Roscoe Smith will play his college basketball in the Big East.
The 6-foot-8 senior, who now attends Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., committed to Connecticut on Friday. He selected the Huskies over Duke and Georgetown.
"He has had a great feeling about UConn all along," said Kelvin Bridgers, Smith's former coach at Walbrook. "You're talking about a top university where you can pick and choose academic programs of a high caliber. You're talking about gentlemen who played the wing [at UConn], guys like Rudy Gay, Rip Hamilton, Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Ray Allen. Just those names alone give you an idea about the ability of [Huskies coach] Jim Calhoun to develop players of Roscoe's prototype and position."
Smith is the second Baltimore native to join UConn's 2010 recruiting class. Former Lake Clifton power forward Cleveland Melvin, who is currently doing a post-grad year at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Mass., committed to the Huskies in November.A two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection, Smith averaged 21.4 points and 11 rebounds per game as a junior. He led the Warriors to a 22-4 record and the Class 4A state semifinals last season.
"Roscoe can just flat-out shoot the cover off the ball," Bridgers said. "In the pro-style offense [UConn] runs, they like a big wing player who can stroke the basketball and get to the rim. He's a guy that can score from anywhere on the floor ... and he can match up with big guys with an arm reach of a 7-footer. So he can post you up, he can shoot the 3 and he can get to the rim."
Bridgers, who coached Smith for three years at Walbrook, now works as an assistant principal at Bluford Drew Jemison, an all-boys charter middle school next to The Dome in East Baltimore. Bridgers said he fully supported and encouraged Smith's transfer to Oak Hill, and felt the same way about his decision to commit to UConn.
"Jim Calhoun puts his best players on the floor," Bridgers said. "We respect how he develops his players. If Roscoe comes in ready to play, he's going to be in position to see the floor. When a type of program like UConn gives you an opportunity, you can't pass it up. ... [Smith] has always kept a cool head and had parents who helped him, which is part of the reason why he had the success he had at Walbrook. He has continued that success at Oak Hill and I'm sure he's going to continue that at UConn as well."
Baltimore Sun photo of Roscoe Smith by Elizabeth Malby / July 17, 2008