High School Sports

Bay High hoops star to play college ball close to home

Bay High senior forward Galen Smith Jr. announced Monday night that he has verbally committed to play basketball at Xavier University in New Orleans.

He and his brother, Tolu Smith, have drawn significant interest from Division I programs with both players putting together impressive campaigns during the 2016-17 season.

Galen, who carries approximately a 4.0 GPA, plans to study radiology at Xavier.

“Xavier is one of the best (historically black colleges) in the country,” he said. “I feel like going to Xavier I can be a major component in winning an NAIA championship.

“It’s an individual choice and what’s best for me.”

One reason Galen said he chose Xavier was the proximity to his home town in Bay St. Louis, allowing his parents to make a short drive to watch him play.

Galen, who is 6-foot-7, averaged 9.9 points and 8.4 rebounds a game this season to help lead the Tigers to a Region 8-4A title and a Sun Herald No. 1 ranking. Bay High finished the season 25-6.

Northwestern State, Southeastern Louisiana and Southern Miss have all shown interest in both Galen Smith Jr. and his brother. The Smith brothers both hit 4-inch growth spurts during the summer of 2016.

Tolu, who stands 6-foot-9, averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a junior this season.

While Tolu is more of a true post player, Galen can play more on the perimeter.

Galen won't be the only Coast product on the Xavier roster. Former D'Iberville forward Evan Howard was a freshman on the Gold Rush roster this season.

Xavier features some of the best basketball facilities on the NAIA level. The Gold Rush play in the Convocation Center, which is a 3,937-arena located on the school's campus.

“When you step in there, it’s overwhelming,” Galen said. “It’s really big. I had the experience of going to a game over there.”

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