Once a Titan, now a Tiger
The Lady Titans’ leading scorer and rebounder will have a new home next season and that will be in Stockton, Calif.
Ashley Smith signed to play basketball for the University of the Pacific on April 13. She will finish the last two years of her college career as a Tiger.
Smith had multiple Division I schools to choose from, including Oregon State University, Seattle University, California State University at Bakersfield and Florida Gulf Coast, where she could have joined former Lady Titan Sarah Brolsma-Whitfield.
Smith visited every school except Florida Gulf Coast before choosing the Tigers. While she enjoyed her time in Seattle, Smith says the size of the city was a bit too much.
“It was just too big of a city for me, but the coaches and basketball part would have been a great experience,” she said.
Smith is the sixth player to move on to a Division I school during head coach Greg Sheley’s tenure, and it is the fourth year in a row that a Titan has moved on to higher competition.
“I am very excited for A.J. to be heading back to a D-1 program,” Sheley said. “She is going to have an opportunity to be an impact player and get a quality education at the same time.”
Tigers head coach Lynne Roberts was excited to sign Smith to her program after being able to see her play in three games this season.
“We knew she was exactly what we needed, someone who could shoot the three, post up on the block and rebound,” Roberts said. “Through the recruiting process we got the opportunity to really get to know AJ as a person and the more we got to know her she fits with our team, our philosophy and our university.”
Roberts also said that she anticipates that Smith will able to step in and contribute right away.
Smith will try to help the Tigers improve on its 10-21 record from last season.
“I wasn’t too sure about their last years win-loss record, so I was a bit nervous and I had been talking to the U of P coaches since January and really gotten along with them the whole time,” Smith said. “Then I went on the visit and was amazed.”
The team made it the second round of the Big West Tournament before losing to Cal Poly, which ended its season.
“It was a tough decision, but she felt most comfortable at Pacific so we are all excited for her,” Sheley said.
Smith was quick to confirm how hard a decision it was to make.
“This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make,” she said. “But when it came down to it I just had a feeling that [University of the Pacific] is where I am supposed to be and this is where the Lord wants me.”