ATLANTA — A former Newton Lady Rams basketball standout is taking the next step in her collegiate career.
Kayla Smith, who spent the last two seasons playing for Atlanta Metropolitan College, signed with Georgia Southwestern Friday. The 5-foot-8 combo guard averaged 12.5 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Lady Trailblazers — impressive, given that Smith spent much of her senior season at Newton as a post player.
Smith said she chose Georgia Southwestern over Shorter University and West Georgia, because she felt an instant, long-time connection at the Americas, Ga. NCAA Division II school.
“They were the first school that ever looked at me since last year when I started at Metro,” Smith said. “When I visited, it just felt right. The coaches keep in touch with me almost every day, and even throughout last summer. I love the campus, and the teammates. The chemistry level I can feel. It’s like we’re already connected.”
She was also impressed with the toughness of the team and how similar its makeup is to the Newton and Metropolitan programs she came from.
“At Newton, they never gave up on me,” she said. “The coaches there stayed on me and helped me shape my game and got me more confident no matter what position I played. The same thing happened here at Metro. Coming out of high school I played out of position as a post player, but going to Metro, I came out as a guard which I’m more comfortable with.
“I think they can shape my game the same at Georgia Southwestern.”
During Smith’s senior year at Newton, she averaged 10.1 points per game while helping the Lady Rams to a Region 2-AAAAAA runners-up finish and a Sweet 16 berth in the Class AAAAAA state tournament.
But after switching to a guard position, she thrived in a different way. She’s showing her enthusiasm for her new start by the way she’s working to improve her game even in the offseason.
“I want to improve my jump shot,” she said. “I get in the gym every day now since the season is over. I work on my jump shot on each side of the court. I probably put up over 150 shots a day. They told me they want me in the same role at Georgia Southwestern. It’s a good opportunity.”