UALR Trojans Sign Two

UALR Trojans Sign Two

The UALR men’s basketball team has announced the signings of Maurius Hill and Devonte Smith.
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The UALR men’s basketball team has announced the signings of Maurius Hill (Flosswood, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor HS) and Devonte Smith (Oklahoma City, Okla./South Plains College). Hill and Smith are the first two signings for the Trojans in the 2012-13 class.

“I’m very excited to bring in two excellent young men who have the qualities that can help us improve upon our 17-win season,” said head coach Steve Shields. “Both Maurius and Devonte are team-first players who come from basketball programs with excellent coaches and strong winning traditions.”

A 6-5, 220-pound forward, Hill averaged a team-high 13.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game as a senior while leading Homewood-Flossmoor HS to a 21-6 overall record and a 12-1 mark in league play. Hill was named the Chicago Sun-Times’ Athlete of the Week on Dec. 10 after averaging 13.5 points and 11 rebounds in wins over Joliet West HS and Curie HS.

“We’re really excited to have Maurius become a part of the UALR basketball family. He’s a workhorse and a phenomenal kid,” said Homewood-Flossmoor head coach Jim McLaughlin. “One of his best attributes is how hard he plays on both ends of the floor. He can really attack the glass, especially off the dribble. He has quick feet for a big guy and a good knack for getting to the rim and finishing.

“He’s a kind of a combination small forward-power forward guy.” McLaughlin continued. “He’s a tough matchup because you put a smaller guy on him and he can really post you up, and if you put a big guy on him he can step outside and attack the rim. For us, he played four positions because he had the ability to get out on the perimeter and still defend people. That’s something that a lot of guys with his body type can’t do.”

A 2011 graduate of Douglass HS, Smith spent his past two seasons under head coach Steve Green at South Plains College, where he played alongside Marshall Henderson (Ole Miss) and Tymell Murphy (FIU). Smith started all 65 games in his career at South Plains.

“He’s a run-the-team, pass-first point guard,” said South Plains assistant coach Hank Plona. “He’s a guy that will get you into your offense, be a leader on the floor and is most concerned about winning basketball games. He’s been on a lot of successful teams growing up and he’s a major reason why.”

As a freshman in 2011-12, Smith played a team-high 31 minutes per game while leading South Plains to a NJCAA Championship and a perfect 36-0 record – just the seventh undefeated season in NJCAA history. Smith averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 assists during South Plains’ championship season. He again led the team in minutes played (32.8 per game) as a sophomore and averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 assists per contest.

“In his two years here, he played every minute unless he was in foul trouble or the outcome had been decided,” said Plona. “A lot of teams have problems with their point guards taking bad shots or getting into foul trouble, but when you have Devonte Smith you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff. There are a lot of things that seem simple, but not a lot of players can do them 100 percent of the time. With Devonte, you don’t have to worry about the simple things.”

While at Douglass HS in Oklahoma City, Smith averaged 8.7 points and 4.3 assists to help lead the team to a 25-4 record and a 2011 Oklahoma State Title. Smith scored 19 points in his team’s 64-52 win over Bridge Creek HS and was named MVP of the tournament.

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