Boo Williams wants more from Dorian Finney-Smith. More points, rebounds and attitude for Williams' 17-and-under basketball roadshow.
Given Finney-Smith's history, all Williams need do is ask.
Such was the case at Portsmouth's Norcom High School, where Greyhounds coach Leon Goolsby sensed elite-level talent in Finney-Smith, a quiet, selfless type whose first instinct is to defer.
"Last year (2008-09) I had to beg him to shoot," Goolsby said. "This year he had to be the most dominant player on the floor, and he lived up to it. … He took on a leadership role, not vocal, but by example. He's very laid-back. He has to be real comfortable to show his personality."
Thanks to Finney-Smith's leadership and wide-ranging talents, Norcom won its first Group AAA state championship last month — he contributed 17 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks in a 55-54 title-game victory over Petersburg.
And because of his exponential improvement, Finney-Smith is a prime recruiting target for ACC, Colonial Athletic Association and Big East schools.
But as Williams' annual spring tournament — sponsor Nike renamed it the Elite Youth Basketball League — opened Friday and Saturday, the 6-foot-8, 185-pound Finney-Smith was back to his deferential self, treading cautiously with new teammates and coaches.
He scored eight points in a Friday loss to the New Jersey Playaz, four in a victory Saturday over the New York Gauchos.
"It's a transition for him," said Goolsby, one of Williams' assistants.
"It's really exciting," Finney-Smith said softly. "I'm looking forward to the type of competition out here."
Modest scoring totals aside, Finney-Smith flashed the skills that made him first-team all-state this season as a junior, when he averaged 19.7 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks.
Against the Gauchos, he drove the left baseline, drew a double-team and passed to Larry Savage in the right corner for an open 3-pointer. Operating from the high post, he beat New Jersey center Desmond Hubert off the dribble and made a layup with his off (left) hand. With 41 seconds remaining versus New York, he scrambled on the floor for a loose ball.
There were hiccups, too. Hubert, who according to Rivals.com has scholarship offers from Virginia and Virginia Tech, blocked Finney-Smith's attempted dunk. And when Finney-Smith brought the ball too low following an offensive rebound, a Gauchos defender stripped him.
Finney-Smith had similar highs and lows with Norcom. He scored only six points in a 72-52 December loss to Phoebus in the Ronald Curry Christmas tournament, but when the teams met in the Eastern Region semifinals with a state tournament bid at stake, Finney had 22 points, 11 rebounds and the game-winning assist in a 61-59 victory.
In a win over Norfolk Christian, Finney-Smith outscored North Carolina commitment James McAdoo 26-24, though the 6-8 McAdoo is clearly a better prospect.
Virginia, VCU and Old Dominion have offered Finney-Smith, the latter intriguing because his brother Ben Finney was the Monarchs' No. 2 rebounder and No. 3 scorer this season as a junior. Clemson also was in serious pursuit, but that was before coach Oliver Purnell left for DePaul.
Virginia Tech, Maryland, Alabama, Cincinnati, Xavier, Marquette and Notre Dame have contacted Goolsby and told him they will monitor Finney-Smith this summer.
"He'll have options," said Goolsby, a former Woodside High assistant coach. "Some people want him to stay home; others want him to get away. He has a 2.8 GPA and is a true student-athlete. He's a great kid to coach.
"He's a team player. He doesn't want to take all the shots. But there are times when he needs to be more selfish, be more demanding of the basketball. He has a great basketball IQ, and he likes challenges."
Never has Finney-Smith been challenged like he will be this summer as Williams takes his team across the country. And what has he learned this weekend?
"You've got to rebound," Finney-Smith said. "There are a lot of big people out here. I need to work on attacking the rim more aggressively. I'm not 7-foot-3."
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime.
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