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Standing tall for Rebels

Flintridge Prep's Kenyatta Smith led the school's boys' basketball team to its first CIF championship

August 16, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
(File photo )

It was hard to miss Kenyatta Smith on the basketball or volleyball court during his recently completed athletic career at Flintridge Prep.

For one, Smith was almost always the biggest physical specimen on the court, towering over others from his position under the basket or in the middle of the net as a multiple All-CIF and All-Prep League center on the basketball team and middle blocker on the volleyball team.

From the time he emerged on the basketball scene as a head-turning freshman, it was clear Smith also had the skill set and raw talent to complement his uncommon physicality and, season by season, he honed his game to become more polished and ever more dominant.

Smith put it all together this winter in a basketball season that stretched farther into the spring than any in Rebels lore and ended with the first CIF Southern Section championship in program history.

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He averaged 19.6 points, 14.8 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game during the season and was even better in the Division V-AA playoffs, averaging 22.6 points and 16 rebounds per outing, culminating in a 15-point, 17-rebound, six-block performance in the Rebels' 47-44 victory in the championship game against Muir on March 5.

For his achievements in basketball, Smith was honored with a slew of postseason awards, including Prep League co-Most Valuable Player, CIF Division V-AA Player of the Year, the John R. Wooden High School Player of the Year Award for CIF Southern Section Division V and his first-ever All-Area Boys' Basketball Player of the Year nod.

While Smith was developing into a championship-caliber basketball player, he was also making the transformation from a casual volleyball player to a cornerstone of the Rebels' CIF–contending squad.

Debuting on the varsity team as a sophomore, Smith notched all-league honors in each of his three seasons and earned an All-CIF Division V first-team accolade following his senior campaign, in which he registered a team-leading 198 kills and 73 blocks.

In light of his extensive accomplishments in basketball and volleyball over the past year, Smith was unanimously voted the 2010-11 James H. Jenkins News-Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Smith recently sat down with the News-Press' Gabriel Rizk to look back on his distinguished two-sport high school career and ahead to his future.

Gabriel Rizk: Can you remember the last time you weren't the biggest kid in your class at school?

Smith laughs.

GR: Was there ever a time?

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