SPORTS >> Ex-Red Devil, Rebel transferring to UALR
Leader staff writer
IN SHORT: Former Jacksonville Red Devil basketball standout and Ole Miss Rebel Mike Smith is transferring to UALR. He and Ole Miss teammate Brandon Patterson (Altheimer) will sit out this season and begin play in 2007.
LITTLE ROCK – It’s been a whirlwind of a post high school basketball career for former Jacksonville Red Devil Mike Smith. The latest move for the 6-foot-7 forward will be back towards home.
UALR head coach Steve Shields announced today that Smith and Brandon Patterson (Altheimer) are transferring to UALR from Ole Mississippi, where each player just completed their freshmen seasons.
The duo will begin taking classes at UALR this summer and will join the Trojans for the 2007-08 season after sitting out the upcoming year to abide by the NCAA transfer rules. Patterson, a 6-6 guard, will have two years of eligibility remaining, while Smith, a 6-7 forward, will have three years left beginning in 2007-08.
Smith signed with Arkansas St. in high school, but was academically ineligible to play Division I basketball. He enrolled at Laurinburg Prep Academy for one year before signing with Ole Miss.
“I’m excited to have Brandon and Mike return to their home state and join our program,” said Shields. “I think both guys will be high-impact contributors for our team after sitting out the upcoming year.”
Smith played in 29 games as a true freshman at Ole Miss, averaging 2.2 points and 1.7 rebounds per game while shooting .479 from the field (23-of-48). He posted career-bests of nine points and a game-high 11 boards against Alcorn State. He matched his career high with nine points against Tennessee and added seven rebounds, both of which were personal highs in SEC play.
The 6-7 forward was a 2004 All-Arkansas selection at Jack-sonville High School and averaged a double-double in leading the Red Devils in points and rebounds his senior year.
After high school, Smith attended Laurinburg Prep and averaged 10.2 points, five rebounds and three assists in helping lead Laurinburg Aca-demy to a 40-0 record and the 2004-05 prep school national championship.
“Mike is a strong post player who can step out and shoot the ball from the three-point line,” said Shields. “I’m very excited about his ability to stretch opposing defenses.”
Patterson was a two-time All-Arkansas selection at Altheimer, as well as the 2004 Southeast Arkansas Player of the Year. He led Altheimer to back-to-back 2A state titles as a junior and senior, earning state tournament most valuable player honors both years.
Altheimer went a combined 63-3 during its two title runs, with Patterson averaging 24.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 4.3 blocks per game as a senior en route to earning First Team All-State accolades.
At Ole Miss, Patterson averaged 5.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game as a freshman, and ranked second on the team with 36 made three pointers.
He scored a career-high 19 points against Tennessee Tech that year, thanks in part to a 5-of-8 effort from three-point range. As a sophomore, Patterson played in all 30 games with 11 starts, and averaged 2.8 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.
“I remember watching Brandon play a lot at the high school level. He brings a great knowledge of the game to our basketball team,” said Shields. “He is highly skilled and brings some flexibility from the standpoint of being able to play a couple of positions.”
The addition of Patterson and Smith, and the departure of forward Chris Thornton, gives UALR 14 scholarship players for the upcoming season, one more than the NCAA maximum. The Trojans return seven letter winners (including three starters) and three redshirt players from last year’s squad, which ended the year with a 14-15 record.
The University of Arkansas-Little Rock sports information department contributed to this story.