DANVILLE (WCIA) — Tevin Smith still has plenty of bounce in his step, making it hard to tell he’s bouncing back from some of the hardest years of his career.
“I for real didn’t know what I was going to do,” Smith said about his injury and recovery process. “It was a really hard feeling, it hurt me a lot.”
The 6-foot-4 guard missed nearly two full years of competitive basketball. Just as he started to gain interest from Power 5 programs, Smith had back to back knee surgeries. He missed most of his junior year with the Vikings, including his final AAU season due the pandemic.
“That’s one of the most important years for AAU really, that’s what you look forward to,” Smith said about the lost opportunity.
“His recruiting game that was going on, of course it went like a whirlwind because of the injuries he had, and he fought so hard to get back to where he’s at,” Danville head coach Durrell Robinson said.
And that hard work didn’t go unnoticed, in large part thanks to him mom, Tanisha Allen. She received a call at just the right time, that ended up paying off.
“At first I though it was fake, just because there is so much scamming going on and it just came out of the blue,” Allen said. “But after I realized it was real, I was like this is an awesome opportunity for you.”
While sports were shut down in Illinois, Tevin got an offer to play for a prep school in Oregon, all expenses paid. He was still enrolled in online classes at Danville, while playing against some of the nation’s top prospects.
“It was a different feeling, it made basketball more fun and more interesting,” said Smith. “Their shooting is unbelievable out there.”
The training even got him some national attention. An alley-oop dunk someone shot on his phone earned him a No. 3 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10.
“I didn’t know what that video was going to do, but it got to SportsCenter, and then it just got to everywhere, my phone was literally blowing up,” Smith added.
The senior even had interest from Texas after the video went viral. After the IHSA brought back basketball, Tevin returned to Danville to play his senior year, averaging 20 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. Out of his eight Division I offers, he was drawn to Cal State Fullerton the most, after learning Titans assistant coach Brandon Dunson is from Bloomington.
“I had a really strong feeling with him from the beginning,” Smith said. “It was just a bonding, he understood everything that I was talking about and I could relate to almost anything.”
Smith will head back to the west coast this summer, after announcing his commitment LIVE on WCIA 3 on January 1st. And the Titans’ only commit for the Class of 2021 will do it as the WCIA 3 Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year.
PAST WCIA 3 BOYS’ BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR WINNERS:
2021: Tevin Smith, Danville
2020: Connor Heaton, Central A&M
2019: Christian Stadeli, Cissna Park
2018: Kendle Moore, Danville
2017: Tim Finke, Central
2016: Brandon Trimble, St. Joseph-Ogden
2015: Christian Williams, St. Teresa
2014: Michael Finke, Centennial