Beach Ball Classic was a major platform for SMU signee Jalen Smith
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Beach Ball Classic was a major platform for SMU signee Jalen Smith

One of the nation's most prestigious high school basketball tournaments saw SMU signee Jalen Smith put on a show at the end of last month. It also showed why the Mustangs are so high on him.

SMU signee Jalen Smith
SMU signee Jalen Smith (Courtesy: Jalen Smith)

The 40th annual Beach Ball Classic, one of the most prestigious high school holiday tournaments in the country, took place at the end of last month in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Milton, Georgia, took home the coveted championship, but Oak Ridge High School out of Orlando, Florida, was a team that caught the attention of many in attendance.

Oak Ridge features Jalen Smith, an SMU signee, and the Pioneers won the third-place game by edging Greensboro (North Carolina) Day, 54-53. It was a game where Smith, a 6-4 guard, scored 15 points, added four steals, and played all 32 minutes of the game.

The tournament included teams from South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio, and it was a chance for Smith to show on a national level why SMU was getting a prized get.

Smith didn't disappoint. He averaged 15.8 points per game and led Oak Ridge in scoring in three of the team's four games. To show his durability, Smith played at least 28 minutes in three of four games, including a full 32 minutes in the tournament semifinal and the third-place game.

Two weeks later, that experience is one Smith said will always have a place on his personal pedestal.

"[I was] able to play against other high-level kids every game and be named to the all-tournament team," Smith told The HillTopics. "Also, it gave me a chance to play in an arena setting.

"We didn't win the championship, but this tournament gave us a lot of confidence as a team heading into the second part of the season."

SMU fans should take note that with each contest, Smith showed a different facet of his game that redefined his versatility. In a first-round win against North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Smith had a game-high 16 points and a team-high five rebounds. In a dominating second-round game, where Oak Ridge rolled to a 96-40 win over First Baptist School of Charleston, South Carolina, Smith had a game-high 21 points and made 5 of 9 from the 3-point line.

Oak Ridge lost, 61-60, to Calvary Christian of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a last-second 3-pointer. However, Smith still finished with 11 points, three assists, three rebounds and two blocks. And in the third-place game, Smith had a game-high 15 points, while also contributing four steals.

"I showed that I could defend at a high level, I could score the ball on all three levels, shoot at a high level and also run a team," Smith said.

Smith's ability to execute as a do-it-all guard is why the SMU staff is thrilled about his arrival to the Hilltop. Smith said he will head to Dallas in the summer.

Smith was the first of two players to commit to SMU (the other being Duncanville guard Zhuric Phelps), and chose the Mustangs on Aug. 30 over offers from Illinois-Chicago, Charlotte, Siena and several other programs. He was recruited to SMU by assistant coach Yaphett King.

"We looked at returning players, relationship with coaches, strength of schedule, and even weather," Smith told The HillTopics back in August. "[SMU] met all of those needs for me."