Just as he has a special flair for basketball, Scotlandville High’s Ja’Vonte Smart has his own spin on postseason awards too.
“I feel like (awards) are a real good thing and I’m blessed,” Smart said. “I don’t like coming across as cocky. I’ve always felt that when you do something good, you shouldn’t brag about it.”
When you’re voted the Outstanding Player on the Class 5A All-State team selected by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association, it’s fair to say the honor speaks for itself.
Smart, considered to be one of the nation’s top recruits for 2018, helped lead the Hornets to a runner-up finish by averaging 22.4 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds.
Two local coaches, East Ascension’s Barry Whittington and Shelly Laprarie of Denham Springs claimed the Coach of the Year honors.
Laprarie coached DSHS to a 30-4 record and a runner-up finish at the LHSAA’s Girls Top 28. It was the school’s first title-game appearance in 20 years.
“This is a huge honor and I appreciate it and to me it says more about our program,” Laprarie said. “It has my name attached to it, but the credit also goes to our team and our other coaches.
“If the girls believed, put in the work and executed to make it possible. Having coach (Brenda) Loe, who was a head coach, on our staff is significant. All the coaches work together. This wasn’t just about me.”
Whittington’s 13th-seeded EAHS squad finished 30-7 and advanced to the semifinals in his second season as head coach at his alma mater. Whittington also credited his players and staff, including head football coach/athletic director Darnell Lee.
“Oh my God, this is special,” Whittington said. “We had some ups and downs and didn’t win our district. This group really bought in and continued to work. Coach Lee and our other assistants kept me and the team grounded. It’s a great award and one everybody played a role in.”
Destrehan’s Cara Ursin, considered to be Louisiana’s top player for 2017, was selected as the Outstanding Player for the girls squad. She averaged 25 points, 12.9 rebounds, 7.3 assists. 6.0 assists and 5.5 blocked shots a game.
Scotlandville’s Garrick Green and East Ascension’s Le’Aaron Cain made the boys second team.
Green averaged 15.9 points and 11.4 rebounds. Cain averaged 20.3 points and 5.1 rebounds.
Brandon Rachal of Natchitoches Central, Lamar Peters of Landry-Walker, Mitchell Robinson of Chalmette and Jay Head of Ouachita joined Smart on the boys first team.
Rachal led NCHS to the 5A title with averages of 15 points and six rebounds; Peters averaged 18 points and seven assists.
Robinson, the tallest player on the LSWA teams, had averages of 20.9 points, 13.6 rebounds and 8.1 blocked shots a game. Head helped Ouachita to the semifinals averaging 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.
Ursin is joined on the girls first team by Kristen Nuss of Mount Carmel, Elise Reilly of Mandeville, Danyale Bayonne of Pineville and Tiara Young of Evangel Christian.
Nuss led Mount Carmel to its second 5A state title in three years. She scored 20 points in the title game. Reilly averaged 22.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists for a semifinals team. Banyonne averaged 19.2 points and 7.6 rebounds and Young averaged 23 points and 5.0 rebounds.