BALTIMORE, Md. — Over the course of time in athletics, few areas have produced as many talented individuals in the world of sports like the famed D.C./Maryland/Virginia area — affectionately known by coaches and college recruiters who know that area as DMV for short.
One of the better women’s basketball talents to come out of the DMV in recent years, Tyiesha Smith, has showcased an impressive floor game that has earned her NCAA Division I opportunities with Seton Hall and New Mexico State.
Smith, who will be of junior eligibility this upcoming year, will be playing basketball at Shawnee State for the next two seasons.
For Smith, the opportunity to obtain a second degree while playing the sport that she loves — and for a person from her home state — is a great honor.
“It means a lot to be a part of the Shawnee State women’s basketball program,” Smith said. “I honestly feel like it’s a blessing for being able to get another degree, and do what I love. To have another shot at continuing my college career is really an amazing feeling. I can’t thank (DeWayne) Burroughs enough for allowing me to have this opportunity.”
Smith leads St. Frances
back to dominance
Smith, a 5-8 combo guard, played her high school basketball at one of the many powerhouses in the aforementioned region — Baltimore St. Frances Academy, a school that has rich tradition dating back to the 19th century and has produced such standouts as former Louisville star and Las Vegas Aces standout Angel McCoughtrey.
Despite a long list of successful talents at the school, and playing inside a traditional powerhouse that has been one of the most successful women’s basketball programs in the area, Smith quickly stood above the crowd.
Following a transfer to St. Frances beginning with her sophomore season, Smith quickly made a name for herself under Jerome Shelton, who has won more than 600 games and is heading into his 31st season with the St. Frances program.
Under his tutelage, Smith became the main focal point of the St. Frances squad as a senior in the 2015-16 season, averaging 20.5 points per game while leading St. Frances to a 25-5 record and a Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) A Conference championship.
Her accomplishments in leading the Panthers to victories in over 83-percent of their games allowed Smith to not only repeat on her first-team all-Metro honors from the year prior from the Baltimore Sun, but allowed her to obtain the 2016 all-Metro Player of the Year Award as well.
Smith was later named as a second-team all-State honoree by media members from around the state, joining future Maryland Terrapin and current Connecticut Sun talent Kaila Charles; present Division I women’s basketball players Mykea Gray (Miami, Fla.) and Lindsey Pulliam (Northwestern); and Maddie McDaniel a talented multi-sport athlete who played women’s lacrosse for James Madison and USC.
Shelton, Smith share
special bond, status
It was the first conference title for the Panthers since 2010, and began a new streak where St. Frances ended up ripping off five A Conference championships in a row from Smith’s senior year to the 2019-20 season.
That has resulted in Shelton, the widely renown coaching talent, earning an incredible 15 conference championships heading into his 31st season of coaching — with 13 of those coming in the A Conference.
The vast range of success that St. Frances has had, along with Shelton’s impact on her life, is certainly something that’s not lost on Smith.
“Being an athlete from Baltimore is an honor in and of itself, but to be able to play for St. Frances is an even bigger honor,” Smith said. “It’s one of the oldest historical catholic schools in Baltimore, and when you attend there, you get that family feeling that always remains true, both on and off of the court. We stuck together no matter what. I am more than honored to be a St. Frances alumni, and to know that I played under the best male high school girls basketball coach in the city. I was and still am very proud to have been able to lead St. Frances back to a championship level.”
Maturation from challenges
motivation to join SSU roster
With opportunities to play at Seton Hall, Angelina (Texas) College and New Mexico State, Smith is looking forward to bringing her knowledge and versatile play style to SSU.
Smith will look to enjoy similar success with the Bears as what she had at Angelina, where she averaged 15.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest — in leading the Roadrunners to a 19-13 record during the 2019-20 season.
“Honestly, I don’t regret any of the trials and tribulations that the game has brought me,” Smith said. “It has helped me grow so much as a person, both on and off of the court. It has taught me to always keep my head held high and to smile through the troubles. Being to different colleges and playing on different levels has helped me improve tremendously as a player, because every level of college basketball has a different style of play that I had to adjust to that put my game on a different level. Throughout my college career, I always stayed true to myself and never gave up, while beating the odds and remaining humble. It’s certainly helped me grow as a person and as a player.”
She’s hoping that her growth can continue with Burroughs, a strong coach and recruiter in the DMV area who has had some of his greatest successes with Baltimore-area products.
Burroughs resided in Randallstown, Md. — a western suburb of Baltimore — prior to relocating to Portsmouth upon taking the Shawnee State job.
“It was a pleasure to talk to Coach (DeWayne) Burroughs,” Smith said. “He’s a Baltimore guy also, so I think that’s why we clicked and he really understood me from the very first time ever having a conversation with him. I can tell that he’s a great guy just from conversation.”
For Smith, the opportunity to earn her second degree, compete for a national championship, and collect NAIA All-American honors are her biggest goals — as she heads toward a new challenge with the Bears.
“Academically, I want to take up interdisciplinary studies and earn my second degree,” Smith said. “It’s a very unique major that gives you the chance to study a combination of two or more academic disciplines and to create something by thinking across boundaries. Athletically, I want to win a national championship and obtain NAIA All-American honors.”
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