It was a rare opportunity and a “photo opp” when Louisiana’s top two basketball players shared the same stage Thursday morning.
Destrehan’s Cara Ursin and Ja’Vonte Smart of Scotlandville added to their awards collection during a visit to the Louisiana Farm Bureau office. Ursin, a 5-foot-7 junior, was voted the Louisiana Farm Bureau/LSWA Miss Basketball winner earlier this spring. Smart, a 6-4 sophomore, won the Mr. Basketball voting.
Both players posed for still pictures and video cameras with their Oscar-like trophies and also got the chance to talk about their future plans.
“I’m going to be focusing on skills training. I want to get deeper into that this summer,” Ursin said. “I’ll be working on dribbling and shooting … really everything. I believe I’m going to attend some camps, but that part of it I’m not really sure about that.”
Ursin said she won’t be playing on an AAU team this summer. That’s a huge contrast to Smart, who will spend time on the AAU circuit, competing for a spot on the USA Basketball under-16 team and attending several camps, including one hosted by reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
Smart is the rated as the No. 1 point guard and No. 5 overall for the class of 2018 by ESPN. He averaged 22.4 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game for the Class 5A runner-up Hornets.
Ursin averaged 25 points, 12.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 5.5 blocked shots per game for the Class 5A Wildcats. She has dunked in one high school game and come close to dunking several other times and is considered to be one of the nation’s most gifted athletes.
ESPN ranks Ursin as the No. 54 player in the class of 2017 and No. 11 at her position. She lists Baylor, Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee as her finalists.
“It’s about becoming more consistent with my mid-range jumper and my other skills,” Ursin said. “I think not playing AAU this summer will give me the chance to do that.”
Smart said he is not ready to talk about colleges or recruiting just yet but knows that time is coming. Since he’s already completed exams and classes, Smart is set to attend an adidas Nations camp in Miami over the weekend with an eye focused on sharpening his skills.
“I’m supposed to go LA (Los Angeles) back-to-back for the Under Armour Association tournament and my team Beast Mode and then the Pangos camp,” Smart said. “And after that it’s the Steph Curry camp and straight to USA basketball.
“Whenever I’m around other good guards, I try to pick up what they do and learn. I’m also getting in the weight room. I want to get bigger and stronger and more explosive and help my team get better too. Becoming more of a vocal leader is another thing I’m working on.”