With the stroke of a pen Tuesday, Southwest basketball standouts Donovan Ross and Deville Smith have officially signed to continue their educational and playing careers at NCAA Division I schools. Ross inked his National Letter of Intent to play for the Lamar University (Beaumont, TX) Cardinals while Smith is headed to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV).
Ross and Smith helped guide Coach Casey Carter's Bears to a 15-10 overall record and, at 8-4, a second-place finish in the MACJC South Division.
A 6' 5" forward from Ridgeland (MS) High School and transfer from Southeastern Louisiana University, Ross hit 68% of his field goals and 73% of his free throws to average 15 points per contest. He was named 2nd Team All-State.
Lamar, a member of the Southland Conference, made the NCAA Tournament in 2012, but struggled during the 2012-13 season, finishing the year at 3-28 (1-17 in the conference). But, Carter feels Ross can provide the team with some much-needed help.
Carter said Ross is signing with Lamar "because he is a good fit. They (Lamar) were one of the youngest teams this past year and they needed a mature player with experience to add to their roster and that's exactly what they got. Donovan is as good as I have dealt with and will be a huge asset to Lamar University."
Ross said he hoped the good season he had for Southwest will carry over to the next level. "I (worked) hard in the off-season," he said, "and I think I had a pretty good season (here). Next year, I hope to do the same and more as I continue to play at the collegiate level."
Smith, a 5' 11" guard from Callaway High School (Jackson, MS) and Mississippi State transfer, led the Bears with 16.7 points per game. He hit 52% from the field and 78% from the free throw line. He ended his only campaign at Southwest by being named Honorable Mention All-American, All-Region and 1st Team All-State.
The Runnin' Rebels, members of the Mountain West Conference, finished the year with a 25-10 record (10-6 in the conference) and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament, falling 64-61 to California.
Carter said Smith signed with UNLV because "the qualities that be brings to a team are exactly what they were looking for. He is a perfect fit and will immediately make an impact."
"Also," Carter went on, "UNLV did the best of anybody recruiting him and they deserved to get him. UNLV with be a Top 25 team next year and can hopefully compete for a national championship."
Smith said his goal at Southwest was to do "his best to help the team to win and to take the team far and to help make the team better off and on the court." Speaking of his new team, he said "with the seniors they have leaving, I think that (going there) is the best situation for me and the best opportunity (for me) to help my family out."