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Williamsport's Smith signs with Longwood

November 21, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

WILLIAMSPORT - Morgan Smith will carry more weight on her shoulders for the Williamsport girls basketball team this winter than she will securing a college scholarship.

On Tuesday, in front of family members and coaches, Smith signed a national letter-of-intent to play at Longwood (Va.) University

"It's a load off my mind," said Smith, who averaged 15.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game last year for the Wildcats. "It was a dream to go to a Division I school like this."

Longwood University, located in Farmville, Va., about an hour from Lynchburg, is currently in its first year as a Division I school playing an independent schedule in all sports. The school eventually will align with the Big South or Colonial Athletic Association.

The 6-foot-1 Smith has played AAU basketball since the sixth grade and found it pays to play the sport during the offseason.

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"(Morgan) has earned every bit of it and worked hard," said Williamsport coach Chris Malott. "She's done it in other months besides Nov. 15 to March 1."

Smith's AAU coach of the last three years, Tony Baker, actually got the ball rolling for her by making a connection with Katie Duffy, a star from Georgetown University who was playing with the Potomac Aces.

"I had some connections, Katie had some connections and one was (Kristin) Caruso," said Baker. "Morgan will fit in nicely with Longwood."

Caruso, a star at UConn from 1986 to 1990, was named head coach at Longwood in June.

"We met coach Caruso in late July at the nationals and then visited Longwood in August," said Smith. "The school made me feel like home. It is a heartwarming place."

Smith attended Longwood's season opener at home against American.

Longwood has an ambitious schedule this year, having already played Virginia and dates with George Mason and Wake Forest looming. And the Lancers will be heading to Maryland for games against UMBC and Mount St. Mary's.

Smith will be joined in the Lancers' freshman class by Kayla Loughner of Good Counsel High School. The two played AAU ball together and will be roommates at Longwood.

"I can't thank my parents (Bob and Joy) and my coaches enough for what they have done for me," said Smith. "I've got a lot of work to do in terms of getting better, quicker on my feet. The intensity level is so much higher."

But first things first. Malott and the Wildcats will be looking for repeats of last year's season-ending 34-point performance by Smith in a postseason loss to Boonsboro.

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