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Former Rebel, Lander commits to Florida State
Jarquez Smith - photo by Photo provided.

A basketball star with Hinesville ties appears headed to next level.
Jarquez Smith, a former St. James Coastal Crew Rebel and First Presbyterian Christian Academy Highlander, has made a verbal commitment to Florida State University, according to Smith made the verbal commitment after visiting the Tallahassee campus Oct. 14.
“The reason I liked them was the coaches, the academics, the atmosphere and the players,” Smith told Jeff Borzello of “Coach (Leonard) Hamilton wants me because I can help score, bring energy and block shots.”
The 6-foot-9 power forward, who is entering his senior year at Jones County High School, had offers from several Division I schools, including Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, South Carolina and Clemson.
“I’m happy for him and happy that he was able to make his choice,” said Smith’s father Willie L. Smith, who added that his son has been shooting hoops since he was roughly 8 years old.
According to, Smith is considered the 23rd-best power forward and the 96th-best player  in the 2013 graduating class. Last season, Smith averaged 8.6 points, seven rebounds and 4.2 blocks a game.
Smith played his sophomore season at FPCA under then-head coach David Jones and averaged 14 points per game for the Highlanders. Jones said Smith  was the best outside shooter he had ever seen as a sophomore.
“He just had great hands, and he is a great athlete,” Jones said.
Rebels founder and coach Ernie Walthour said FSU scouts and recruiters came to the St. James Sports Center about two years ago to watch Smith play, and they had pursued him ever since.
“They watched him work out for about two and a half hours,” Walthour said. “And when he went to nationals with the Rebels, they came to watch him play.”
Walthour said Georgia also made an offer, but the Seminoles “had done a lot of leg work on him … and I think that made a difference,” he said.
“I think he made an excellent choice,” Jones added. “With the players they (FSU) already have in this position … FSU is loaded with the inside power players, so as a three-player, it lets him play his natural position. He doesn’t have to be a primary inside rebounder or a defensive player, so I think it is an excellent choice. He can play the three, where he has unlimited talent. It’s up to him where he takes it from this point on, and he can very easily make a living in playing basketball.”
Walthour said he keeps in touch with Smith and his parents, and they talk about his academic requirements.
“At a D-I school, you have to stay focused on that to remain eligible, and Jarquez has done a great job in getting his grades on point,” Walthour said.
Walthour said Jones and Rebel coaches David Linderman, Larry Baggs and Mike Brown did a lot of work in perfecting Smith’s game and keeping him on track academically while Smith played for the Rebels and attended FPCA.
Jones said it was good for Smith to make an early decision “because that gets that recruiting process off of him and his family … the recruiters were calling every day doing their job and trying to get him.”

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