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College Basketball | USC REPORT

Smiley's Not Wasting Time

January 04, 2003|Paul Gutierrez | Times Staff Writer

SEATTLE — Ever since he set foot on USC's campus and his transfer from a small junior college in Middle America was complete, Roy Smiley has had this day circled on his calendar.

The reason: The junior swingman would be playing his first Division I basketball game in his hometown ... for the opposition.

"I was a well-known player in the area," said Smiley, a Seattle native who led Garfield High to a state title as a senior. "They hated to see me go, but they loved to see me get somewhere where I could achieve my goals and become a better player, become a better man."

Smiley eschewed the local university -- Washington -- when he orally committed to USC while in high school. But when he failed to get the needed SAT score, he had to go the junior college route to get his academic house in order, spending the first two years of his collegiate career at Southeastern Iowa College in West Burlington.

He has been one of the Trojans' most pleasant surprises this season, especially with USC Coach Henry Bibby's expectation that it takes junior college players a year to get acclimated.

But that doesn't mean that Bibby is surprised by the early-season exploits of Smiley, the Trojans' third-leading scorer with a 12.1-point average.

"I expect every guy to be better than what they are. That's my thinking," Bibby said. "I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, being junior college players, but I expect them to come in and excel.

"They should be different than the other kids because they know how tough it is being behind the eight ball because they've lost two years already. They need to be better from Day 1 because their time has been shrunk."

Smiley, who started six of USC's first seven games, leads the Trojans with 18 three-point baskets and 14 steals, and is shooting 47.3% -- 48.6% (18 of 37) from beyond the three-point arc.

"I just wanted to get out there [on the court], wanted to learn quick instead of using a year," said Smiley, who expects about 30 friends and relatives to attend tonight's game. "I only have two years. I just want to go out there and have fun, not put too much pressure on myself, and just go out there and enjoy the experience."

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