Guard matures into leader

KEEPING COMPOSURE: Northview Heights’ starting point guard Kyle Smith has learned how keep is teammates together in the face of adversity.

Kyle Smith takes the helm at Northview

Northview Heights is witnessing the evolution of Kyle Smith.

The point guard for the senior boys basketball team has matured into the young team’s leader, says coach Samantha Burrows, and it’s a positive sign for the 2012–13 campaign.

“A lot of the players (including Smith) are first years in the senior division, so it’s quite challenging coming into a higher level of competition,” she said.

“He was a leader on the junior team, and as a point guard it is part of the natural position,” she added. “He shared the responsibilities but I’d say this year he took on more of those responsibilities himself due to the person he shares them with was injured.”

Missing in action was teammate Terell MacDonald, but regardless of his missing friend, Smith used every obstacle during the season as a reason to improve.

“I had to look into myself, ‘You know what Kyle, what can you do?’ ” he said. “Basketball is my life. All I want to do is play professional basketball, and I strive to do better.

“If my shot is off one game, I will go into the gym and I make sure I master the shot,” he added. “If I’m to go back into the gym again and play the next game.”

He has his cousin to thank for his grit. Devante Williams has become a second father for Smith as he develops as a player.

“He always makes sure I was physically active playing ball,” Smith said. Outside of Williams, Derrick Rose is another key influence in the 16-year-old point guard’s life.

Though it’s not Rose’s number 1 Smith dons.

“My favourite number is 25, it represents (Jesus) Christ to me,” he said. “Every time I put on that jersey I know that he’s going to be there for me, no matter what.”

Unfortunately the number wasn’t available, so Smith opted for his father Donat’s age: 33.

“Every number I have has to have a meaning to me,” Kyle Smith said. “I can’t just wear any random number.”

With the Phoenix finishing the regular season with a 1-5 record, failing to qualify for the playoffs, Burrows said her standout court director uses his sense of humour to offset disappointment.

“It’s always bittersweet when you lose,” she said. “Usually more bitter than sweet, but I think he recognized the progression that the team had made throughout the season.

“He did take a lot of the responsibility on himself to be that person that would finish the game for the team.”

The losing record has been a catalyst for focus and serenity for Smith. Now he awaits the graduates from a 7-0 junior Phoenix squad to join the senior team in 2012-13.

And from this year’s ashes a leader is born.

“I’ve matured a lot at keeping my composure, and learning not to yell but to show (my teammates), ‘You’re not doing this right, this is where you need to be,’ ” he said. “Just talk to them on a reasonable level instead of yelling and bickering because that’s when everything is going to fall apart.”

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