Belle athlete Halle Smith hopes to be a 'problem solver' for SEMO hoops
Halle Smith has a natural curiosity when it comes to solving problems.
The Belle High School senior aspires to study psychology in college with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist one day.
“I’ve always been the person around my family and friends who can talk to somebody,” Smith explained. “I love to talk, and I love to listen to people tell me their problems so I can help them.
“I think that is so fascinating.”
Belle girl’s basketball coach Evin Farris had a “problem” this past season when he lost his starting point guard and Smith was there to help the Tigers deal with the dilemma.
The 6-foot athlete typically played in the paint for Belle, but she moved to point guard to help her team and it ended up being beneficial for her.
“My goal at the beginning of the season was to become a better ball-handler and a better shooter,” Smith said. “It was horrible that our point guard had an injury, but (the position switch) gave me a lot of practice and I learned a lot this year.
“I became a better leader because I became a point guard after being a post player my whole life.”
Smith is going to take those problem-solving skills, as well as her athletic ability, to Southeast Missouri State in a little over a year after verbally committing to the Redhawks’ women’s basketball program earlier this spring.
“It was mostly the coaches,” Smith said of what intrigued her about the SEMO program. “They were really energetic. They made me feel at home and all of the players were really nice.”
Smith had an opportunity to watch a couple of SEMO games and practices this past season and the positive vibe that she got from the coaches, players, and even the campus, which she “loved,” all made her feel comfortable with her decision. Even the distance (176 miles) between Belle and Cape Girardeau felt “perfect” to Smith.
“A big thing for me was not being super close to home,” Smith said, “but not being extremely far away. It was the perfect fit.”
Her ability will make her a “perfect fit” on the court, as well.
At 6-foot, she can play on the perimeter as a forward, but also has the experience and strength to battle inside when she is asked to.
“I’m a pretty versatile player,” Smith said. “And I’m big and I’m strong.”
Smith has built that strength in the weight room, but she also did in her driveway.
She is the middle child sandwiched between two brothers, one of whom is four years older and four inches taller, and the battles against him made her capable of dealing with other high school girls.
“Being the only girl,” Smith said, “I didn’t have the option of being a ‘girly-girl.’ I was always playing pick-up games with my brother and helping him. He always needed someone to play defense against him.
“He would not take it easy on me. There was hair-pulling and punching and everything else. It always got really competitive and that is why I got so strong and tough because I had to play against him and he’s really strong.”
Smith has made steady progress statistically throughout her career.
After averaging 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game as a freshman, she averaged 18.5 and 7.1 as a sophomore.
Her 2-point field goal percentage was over 50 percent in both of those years, while she increased her free throw rate from 63 to 70 percent.
This past season, Smith averaged over 23 points and nearly nine boards per game, while also blocking almost two shots per game.
Her free throw percentage continued to climb, as she sank 76 percent of her attempts.
She is playing this summer for the Missouri Phenom out of Columbia and makes the hour-plus drive to Columbia three times per week for practices. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the summer schedule of games, but she hopes that some tournaments end up being played. But if they do not, she can always turn to her brothers (her freshman brother is already 6-foot) to be HER problem solvers.