Sports Talk: Just imagine if French and Smith had been on the same team

What if.

Here’s something you may not have been aware of in local prep basketball circles.

Ohio first-team all-staters’ Evan French of Warren and Shon Smith of Fort Frye were nearly royal blue and white teammates.

“From grade school up until the the seventh or eighth grade, I think, I went to Barlow-Vincent,” recalled Smith after being named an all-state honoree for the second straight year (Last year, he was third team.) Tuesday night. “Dylan Leffingwell and I were classmates and good friends – still are.”

Leffingwell’s a starting frontcourt player for the Warriors, who played and lost to the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary Irish 70-51 in an Ohio Division II state semifinal game at Value City Arena in Columbus on Thursday.

Just imagine the 5-foot-10 Smith and 6-3 French, both of whom averaged 20 points per game this past winter, on the same team. It’s almost mind-boggling.

Both are virtual scoring machines, and especially lethal from the perimeter. Smith scored a career-high 37 points against Warren of all teams in Beverly this season, while French set the school’s single-game points mark with 44 versus Chillicothe in February.

Smith, a senior, has actually been above 30 points in a game a couple of times during his career.

French, a junior, also had a 40-point game against the Cavaliers last year.

Of course, as things turned out, the Warren boys had a banner season, going to state for the first time. Fort Frye, on the other hand, bowed out of postseason play early on – at Meadowbrook in Byesville.

“That’s been one of my regrets as a high school basketball player, not being able to play at the Convo (Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens),” Smith said.

The Warren boys were 4-0 at the Convo this winter, winning both a district and regional championship for the first time.

On the subject of ‘what if’….

It’s been said that St. Clairsville’s Dan Monteroso and Athens’ Ibi Watson were almost Marietta Tigers.

This week, the 6-3 Monteroso was honored as a first-team All-Ohio selection and one of the Players of the Year in Ohio Division II.

He averaged 26.5 points per game.

Watson, a Bulldog freshman, was an all-state honorable mention.

With Monteroso and Watson wearing the orange and black, things might have been different at Sutton Gym this past winter.

Ah, but we’ll never know.

And, finally….

Former Marietta High and West Liberty University basketball standout Ben Howlett appears to be on the fast track to a head coaching position at some level of play in the future.

Currently, Howlett is an assistant on the West Liberty Hilltoppers, who are making a tournament run in NCAA Division II men’s basketball in Wheeling, W.Va.

Not too long, Howlett was an assistant at Ohio Valley University in Vienna, W.Va.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor, and can be reached at 376-5441 or at