Columbia River senior is All-Region boys basketball player

Isaiah Smith has several college offers

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Isaiah Smith took a gamble on himself this school year.

Back in November, he had a few small offers to play college basketball. He could have taken the easy route and signed with a program then. However, Smith had different strategy.

photoIsaiah Smith

(/The Columbian)

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"I had the hardest working offseason of my life," said Smith, a senior from Columbia River High School. "I had never worked so hard in the weight room, on the court. I knew it would pay off during my senior year."

Rest of All-Region first team

Tyler Copp, sr., Union: Led the Titans to the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title.

Taylor Drey, sr., Mountain View: Was a threat to score from just about anywhere on the floor.

Tim Hergert, sr., Heritage: Simply put, he was a scoring machine for second year in a row.

Wyatt Yearout, sr., Hockinson: Led the Hawks to a strong run to the Class 2A regionals.

All-Region honorable mention

Preston Brooks, sr., Prairie: Voted first-team, all-league in 3A Greater St. Helens League.

Aaron Deister, sr., Washougal: Provided the inside scoring punch for quality Panthers squad.

Luke DuChesne, sr., Mountain View: He and Drey created quite the 1-2 punch for the Thunder.

Robert Franks, so., Evergreen: Tall sophomore with an outside touch. Could be the next big thing.

Tanner Huddleston, jr., Woodland: Voted first-team, all-Trico League after leading team in points.

Miles Luke, sr., Battle Ground: First-team, all-league had a really strong second half of season.

Michael McElroy, sr., Washougal: Point guard for a team that made a little history at Washougal.

His game improved, his college prospects have improved, and the Chieftains surely improved.

Smith, a 6-foot-8 post who was a double-double machine, led the Chieftains to the sweet 16 of Class 3A basketball. His performance led to Smith being named The Columbian's All-Region boys basketball player of the year.

He did not waste any time, either.

In the first game of the season, Smith set two school records. He scored 42 points in a win over Evergreen, giving him the most points scored in a single game and a career. He finished his career with 1,605 points.

"With all the great tradition at Columbia River, it's really an honor," Smith said of those marks.

That first game was not his favorite of the season, though. Instead, he noted a game with a lot more meaning.

The Chieftains had won the district tournament for the second year in a row, but then they lost the opener of the bi-district tournament.

They had to travel the next night to Tacoma in a loser-out game, with some bad history on their minds. In 2012, the Chieftains went 0-2 in bi-district, failing to advance to regionals.

"We made a goal of trying to go further than we did last year," Smith said.

River beat Lakes 55-45 to advance.

"That was the most exciting win of the season," Smith said.

Next up for Smith is a decision. Remember that gamble he took? This season brought him more offers from colleges. He will sign in April. He named four schools in particular that are in the running: Eastern Washington, Cal State Monterey Bay, Alaska-Anchorage and Western Oregon.

Wherever he ends up, the college program will be getting an athlete who knows the value of training, of goal-setting, and of believing in himself.

ISAIAH SMITH, Columbia River High School

Season highlights

  • Averaged 21.5 points per game in his final season.
  • Scored 517 points this season, giving him a school-record 1,605 in his four-year varsity career.
  • Scored in double figures in 23 of the team’s 24 games.
  • Voted by the coaches as the 3A Greater St. Helens League’s player of the year.
  • Led Columbia River to the regionals — among the final 16 teams in the state.

More about Isaiah

  • Most inspiration person: “My dad (Eric). He’s really inspired me to be the best I can be.”
  • Favorite movie: “The Dark Knight Rises.” Smith called it “action, action, action.”
  • Favorite book: The Hunger Games series. “It’s good stuff,” he said.
  • Favorite subject: Marketing. “One of the most interesting classes I’ve taken in high school.”

Next year and beyond

Expects to sign a letter of intent during the April signing period. He has four schools in mind, but is open to hear from other programs, as well. Wants to major in business finance.

“It’s really got me prepared for life. That’s something I value from basketball. I’ve learned to be positive through all of life’s challenges.”

Isaiah Smith