Carroll’s A-gym measures about 35 feet from ceiling to court. But it may not be able to contain the ceiling of sophomore Priscilla Smeenge’s game.
It’s just about now where the word is starting to spread on the 5-11 post/guard. Smeenge has developed both the shooting touch and the play around the rim to make her one of the better players in both District 7-6A and Tarrant County.
Her 21-point effort against Euless Trinity in Carroll’s 57-49 victory gave Smeenge her third 20-plus effort of the season. She’s been in double figures in all but six of Carroll’s games. The Lady Dragons (18-6, 5-0) had sole possession of first place going into last Friday’s game against Colleyville Heritage.
For the year, Smeenge is averaging 13.2 points. In a six-game stretch where she has been in double figures in all of them, Smeenge is averaging 19.2 points.
“Running [Carroll head coach Teri Morrison’s] system has helped me a lot with spacing the floor and being where I need to be,” Smeenge said. “That’s helped me to get open and pass well to my teammates.”
Smeenge’s journey began as a freshman. It didn’t take much time on the practice floor for Morrison to note the advanced game. And then everything flipped this past December. Smeenge took advantage of her opportunities, played with an aura of confidence and really hasn’t stopped since.
That’s why she should evolve into a highly sought Division I recruit. Abilene Christian was the first school to offer. But expect that to change during the spring, and summer select league play.
Plus, it never hurts to have a pretty good point guard to work with, either. Smeenge and senior Kennedy Leonard have developed a connection when the Lady Dragons are running their break. Leonard’s first step sets the stage. A darting Smeenge runs the floor where she gets into nearly the same spot looking for and receiving a perfectly placed and timed outlet pass that results in a layup.
But Smeenge has no problem stepping out and nailing a mid-range jumper. From everything inside the three-point line, she’s shooting 51 percent.
“When I first saw her last year, I just saw someone who was committed to their game and immediately separated herself from the others,” Morrison said. “Her game is going to continue to grow. Her IQ is something that you can see really go to the next level.”
Smeenge admitted that her freshman season was a bit overwhelming. The game was faster. The players were bigger and more physical. Her mind zipped in every direction.
But the growth of her game is now revealed when she steps on the court. It’s quickly evident that the moment isn’t too big for her.
In the win over Trinity, Smeenge had a Trinity defender to her inside who wouldn’t give her a clean look for a layup. But somehow Smeenge was able to use her height and the well- rehearsed angle to still the guide the ball in the basket.
“As I have learned to slow down my game and take my time and look at what’s going on, it’s just allowed me to get better,” Smeenge said. “But I still want to develop my three-point shot and really just develop the transition game more, and passing to my teammates more.
“You’ve got to put in the work if you want to see results and do the things you need to do in order to be successful. It’s the little things and do the reps in practice and not slack off. Practice is when you need to get better. That’s important to me.”
Correction: Smeenge was incorrectly identified as a freshman in a tease to this article on page 1A.