Freshman center Reed Smith adapts to life in Southern California after growing up in Tennessee

Freshman center Reed Smith dunks the ball in practice Feb. 6. Smith is second in both points and rebounds for Chapman. Photo by Diano Pachote.

Listed at 6’6” and 218 pounds, Reed Smith is a commanding, physical presence. In his first season, the freshman center has proven himself to be invaluable to the men’s basketball team. Smith has started all 23 games, is second in both points and rebounds, and has helped Chapman to a playoff berth after the team missed the playoffs for the first time in four years last season.

Despite his stature, Smith is soft-spoken and has an easygoing nature. The youngest of four kids, he is from the Nashville suburb of Brentwood, Tennessee.

“Family time is really important to me. With my brother living in Washington, D.C., and one of my sisters living in Texas, it’s hard, and we get together maybe three days a year,” Smith said. “Fortunately, my parents made it out here for a full two weeks to be with me and watch my games.”

The transition from Tennessee to Southern California has been challenging, Smith said.

“It’s been pretty tough,” he said. “The way people talk and act here is much different from where I am from.”

Smith misses the wildlife, the nature, but most of all the food in Tennessee, he said. Back home, he was accustomed to Zaxby’s chicken wings and waffle houses.

His process of adapting to Southern California’s cuisine has introduced him to sushi and poke, which is a raw fish salad often served over rice.

“There’s only one sushi place in Tennessee near me and everyone stays away from it,” Smith said. “Now, I love sushi.”

For Smith, Chapman made the move from Tennessee to California worth it. A basketball fanatic since age 3, and a lover of filmmaking, Chapman checked every box: the chance to play college basketball and study at the No. 6 film school in the U.S.

Reed Smith, freshman center, out of Brentwood, Tennessee. Photo by Diano Pachote.

Smith, a news and documentary major, has had an interest in film since middle school. Commercials, short films, news stories and trailers were constant focuses for Smith throughout his time at home, and he knew he wanted to pursue filmmaking at the collegiate level.

Smith’s bond with the basketball team has helped him adjust to Southern California, he said.

“(Smith) doesn’t shy away from being far away, and his teammates embrace the fact that he is able to cope with being miles from home,” said assistant coach Dan Krikorian.

Junior guard Reed Nakakihara said that despite being a freshman, Smith has a noticeable maturity.

“(Smith) is always the first one in the locker room getting prepared for game day,” Nakakihara said. “The coolest thing about (Smith) is that he has a great amount of knowledge – us older players always ask him about things.”

The team has two regular season games before the playoffs, the next one at Occidental College Feb. 14. So far, Smith has no complaints.

“I really enjoy being here,” Smith said. “I couldn’t have made a better choice.”

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