Louisiana Mr. Basketball 2017
By ROBIN FAMBROUGH
Written for the LSWA
The roads to individual honors and team championships don't always intersect. Ja'Vonte Smart saw this when Scotlandville High was the Class 5A runner-up in 2016.
So the 6-foot-4 Smart went back to work and made it work. After leading the Hornets to the LHSAA Division I title, Smart was voted the Louisiana Farm Bureau Insurance/Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Basketball for the second straight season.
“I see myself as a winner and I’ll do what I have to do so we can win,” Smart said. “If I don’t have to score, that’s fine. If I got to pass the ball or just play defense, that’s fine too. I’ll pick a role and do whatever my team needs.”
Along the way, Smart also made some history. The junior is only the second two-time winner of the award the LSWA has presented since 1996. Helen Cox star Greg Monroe, now with the Milwaukee Bucks, won the award in 2007 and 2008.
Smart made two free throws with 8.7 seconds left to give the Hornets a 53-52 victory over Brother Martin in the LHSAA’s Division I title game last month in Lake Charles and also was voted the game’s Outstanding Player.
A two-time Gatorade Player of the Year winner for Louisiana, Smart averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game as Scotlandville won its second LHSAA title game in his three-year prep career.
A younger lineup for the Hornets mandated some changes to Smart’s previous approach as a point guard.
“I had to be more of an all-around player, not just a facilitator,” Smart said. “I had to post up and score and rebound. It made me better.”
Smart is considered one of the top point guards in the Class of 2018, but Scotlandville coach Carlos Sample that has never changed his dedication to his team.
“He has a desire to win,” Sample said. “On the next level his true position is point guard, With the make-up of our team, he had to go down in the block at times. He’s just a team player.”
The fire and desire to win continue to burn. Smart answers immediately when asked what he’ll remember most from a year that brought more individual honors.
“That I helped my team get back to the championship game and win it,” Smart said. “I’ll always remember that.”
LA Farm Bureau/ Mr. Basketball award winners
1996: Lester Earl, Glen Oaks
1997: Marcus Fizer, Arcadia
1998: Stromile Swift, Fair Park-Shreveport
1999: Bernard King, Gibsland-Coleman
2000: Chris Duhon, Salmen
2001: Donald Perry, McCall-Tallulah
2002: Darrel Mitchell Jr., St. Martinville
2003: Paul Millsap, Grambling Lab
2004: Glen Davis, University
2005: Tasmin Mitchell, Denham Springs
2006: Demond Carter, Reserve Christian
2007: Greg Monroe, Helen Cox
2008: Greg Monroe, Helen Cox
2009: Joevoskie Mitchell, Zwolle
2010: Markel Brown, Peabody
2011: Ricardo Gathers, Riverside Academy
2012: Dee Wagner, Peabody
2013: Jarell Martin, Madison Prep
2014: Reginal Johnson Jr., Richwood
2015: Brandon Sampson, Madison Prep
2016: Ja'Vonte Smart, Scotlandville
2017: Ja'Vonte Smart, Scotlandville