2020 Southridge 6-foot-6 forward Tristan Smith recently wrapped up his final season of prep basketball, and is now working towards the next big goal in his life.

That would of course be to make his way onto a college basketball roster. Having been a heavily featured star for Southridge these past four years, he’s put himself in an excellent position to earn a college opportunity.

This past season was actually Smith’s best yet, as he helped Southridge to their best record in five years, and won a district playoff game. He also averaged career highs in points, assists, and blocks. 

“A lot of our players were seniors, so we got a lot of people at our games,” Smith said. “It was cool getting a couple sweeps and putting some wins on our record.” 

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Smith has been a ‘big fish in a small pond’ these past four years at Southridge. During that time, the Suns never had a winning record, but Smith earned an impressive three all league awards, including First Team honors this past season. 

There’s good reason to believe these past four years have made Smith a tougher player, and forced him to elevate his game. 

To make a comparison to the professional level, sometimes top NBA players come from small schools. Examples of this include Damian Lillard (Weber State), and Ja Morant (Murray State). 

Not to compare Tristan Smith to NBA players, but playing for a below average team in high school could make him an even better college player.

It’s looking very likely that Smith will start his next chapter in the Junior College ranks. It will certainly be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that Smith has been ready to embrace for a long time now.

“You always hope to get a four year offer, but I’m not mad at myself. I’m going to work to get a four year scholarship at some point,” Smith said. 

Some schools that he’s been in talks with include Columbia Basin College, Southwest Oregon College, Peninsula College, and Ottawa University Arizona. 

One of the key reasons he’s getting a high volume of looks is his versatility; Colleges like that he has the size and skillset to play virtually any position on the floor. He’s primarily being recruited however as a guard or forward. 

Oftentimes when a high school senior is looking to attend a college, there’s a lot of variables being considered such as location, cost, and programs. 

But for a future JuCo player like Smith, there’s one criteria that carries more weight than the rest combined.

“I’m looking for a program with a good history of getting their players to four year schools,” Smith said. 

To get school paid for the next four years is certainly the dream, and Smith is working consistently to make that dream come to fruition. 

With the Stay At Home order in full effect in Washington, Smith has been focusing his training away from the basketball court. He’s primarily been working on his conditioning and bodyweight strength. 

The college games he’ll be playing in are 25% longer than high school games (32 minutes to 40 minutes), so taking his conditioning to the next level will prove to be valuable. 

Smith is still weighing his options when it comes to choosing a college, but he hopes to have a decision finalized by the end of April. 

Reflecting on his Southridge career, the memory that stands out in particular for Smith was the night he scored 1,000 points. He finished with 1,290 in his career. 

“The night I scored my 1,000th points against Hanford, we were making a big fourth quarter comeback, and I ended up getting fouled on a fast break. My final two points were on free throws,” Smith said.

Smith also said that it’s been an incredibly fun ride representing Southridge Basketball these last four years, and he’s excited for what the program can do going forward. He’ll certainly be looking to continue making his home community proud going forward.