NaLyssa Smith has been recruited by dozens of schools. At one point, she was speaking with four to five college coaches per night and on more than a few occasions had to step out of the gym to take calls from coaches.
Slowly, she narrowed her list and took official visits to South Carolina, Ohio State, Louisville and Baylor, the latter three this month.
On Thursday, the versatile 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 forward from East Central High School in San Antonio will sit down with her family and list the pros and cons of each school. A day later, she’ll make her announcement, probably in the form of a video.
“These last couple of days it’s been a lot of thinking. Just staying up thinking about where I want to do my next four years and what coaching staff I want to be with,” Smith said Tuesday. “It’s really exciting, though. I want to say like I’m really ready to announce but it’s so close that it’s like I’ve just got to keep thinking about it, thinking it over.”
Smith, ranked the No. 7 player in the ESPN HoopGurlz Class of 2018 Super 60, averaged 19 points and 14 rebounds as a sophomore at East Central and 23 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks as a junior.
She made her first official visit to South Carolina in April and said she was impressed by coach Dawn Staley as well as the Gamecocks’ style of play. She enjoyed the team and coaching staff at Louisville, the coaching staff and campus at Ohio State and the proximity, system and incoming recruiting class at Baylor.
During her visit to Columbus earlier this month, Smith said she met with the Buckeyes’ coaching staff as well as guard Jensen Caretti, one of the few players on an experienced Ohio State team that will still be on the roster for the 2018-19 season.
“(Caretti) was real cool, so I could just imagine how the team was,” Smith said. “The coaching staff I really loved. They seemed like cool people to be around.”
Smith’s mother, Nikki, and father, Rodney, have been regulars on her visits and have come with questions of their own.
“My wife she would drill them on the academic side and then I would drill them on the basketball side,” said Rodney Smith, a former forward at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Smith has been able to take advice from a few heavily-recruited San Antonio-area recruits who came before her, including Kiana Williams, an incoming freshman point guard at Stanford, and Amber Ramirez, who is entering her sophomore year at TCU.
Like Williams and Ramirez did not long ago, Smith will soon make her decision. Not that it will be an easy one.
“I’m happy that it’s kind of coming to an end, but only coming to an end because she’s finally making a big decision for her life and she knows she’s going to be taken care of,” Rodney Smith said. “It wasn’t a burden on me. I enjoyed the whole process because I wanted her to go through it and experience it because she’s been dreaming about this since she was little.”
In the final days leading up to her decision, NaLyssa Smith said she has gone back and forth a few times.
“One day it’s this one and then the next day I’ll think about it. It’s really like the flip of a coin,” Smith said with a laugh. “I really don’t know, it’s that close.”