St. Petersburg's Smith leading the way for Green Devils

- Be humble, yet hungry. That's what Serrel Smith's mother has always advised him. He's listened. 

"If you didn't know Serrel, you wouldn't think that Serrel was a basketball player," said his coach, St. Petersburg High School's Chris Blackwell. "You would just look at him and say he's just an athlete, maybe he plays football or something, you know?" 

The St. Petersburg shooting guard comes from a family of basketball players. His mother was even an All-American at UCF years ago. 

Now Smith is one of the best basketball players that's ever put on a Green Devils uniform. He is St. Petersburg's all-time leading scorer. 

"Just trying to wake everybody up," said Smith. "I feel like everybody's been sleeping on me, trying to open some eyes."

That's exactly what he did last month when he dropped 42 points on Oak Hill Academy. He also scored 39 on the school the year before. Oak Hill is a program a team that boasts McDonald's All-Americans year-in and year-out and has produced NBA All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and Rajon Rondo.

"Wow," said Blackwell.  "It speaks volumes for him to play at that level.”

St. Petersburg would go on to lose that game by just six points, one of the Green Devils' few losses this year. 

Despite his success, Smith says he plays with a chip on his shoulder. 

"People have been looking over me," he said. "I'm just playing like I have something to prove, really." 

He has signed to play college ball with Ole Miss next season, but already acts like he's been there. He studies tape, and is always shooting hoops on his own, after practice and on the weekends. 

But before he can think about his next move, Smith will try to lead St. Petersburg to its first state championship since 1933.

"They compete," said Smith of his teammates. "They compete, go out and their hardest every night. They give it all they've got. We've been doing that all year round. That's what got us where we're out now." 

That's where his mom comes in again. Remember the advice she gave him? 

"My mom always told me to stay humble and stay hungry," Smith remembered. "I just keep it to myself. I know I did it, it's a big accomplishment, got to move on." 

According to 247 Sports, Smith had 13 offers before making his decision to play at Ole Miss.

District tournaments tip off next week. St. Petersburg was the state runner-up in 2016. The Green Devils fell in the regional finals last season. 

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