Scoring points is as easy for D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera as twerking is for Miley Cyrus.
You won’t see him on stage scaring everybody, but he does strike fear into the heart of his opponents the second he steps on the court.
The Georgetown sophomore is enjoying a breakout season, averaging a team-best 17.1 points per game. His shooting percentages are tough to believe – 48.2 percent from the floor, 82.4 percent from the line and 47.8 percent from beyond the arc. He has stepped up and taken a leadership role alongside fellow guard Markel Starks to carry the Hoyas to a 10-3 overall and 2-0 conference record.
Two years ago, Smith-Rivera was running the show at the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, the former stomping ground of NBA greats Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings. As a senior, Smith-Rivera led the Warriors to a 44-0 record and capped off his perfect season with a 41-point exhibition in the state title game.
Even with his unrivaled scoring ability, Smith-Rivera had his difficulties transitioning to the Division I level of play. His large frame (6-foot-3, 220-pounds) granted him the ability to body up against smaller high school players and use his strength to score in the paint. However, against much bigger athletes in the appropriately-named Big East, DSR had trouble scoring in the same fashion.
As a freshman, Smith-Rivera averaged eight points per game under the nuisance of inconsistent playing time. He displayed flashes of brilliance at times, going for 19 points in his college debut and dropping 33 on DePaul in the latter half of the season. Other times he struggled mightily, particularly against the powerhouse schools. Against No. 5 Louisville, he shot just 1-for-10 for five points. In three appearances against Syracuse, Smith-Rivera converted on just 29 percent of his field goal attempts. During the loss everyone remembers against Florida Gulf Coast in the “second” round of the NCAA Tournament, the freshman struggled to a 3-for-11 shooting performance for just six points.
The offseason was happily welcomed by DSR, who spent his time getting into better playing shape, increasing his stamina and working on his defense. After dropping 20 pounds and improving his overall athleticism, Smith-Rivera was ready to take over primary scoring duties with the departure of former Georgetown star Otto Porter. After a rough showing in his first game as a sophomore against No. 17 Oregon, DSR went on to score 25 or more points in three of his next four games. Georgetown found its next star.
As the Hoyas get deeper into their conference schedule, look for DSR to continue developing his all-around game. The Big East provides great competition for players to strengthen their abilities against elite talent, but it also allows for a few games against relatively easy opponents to fine-tune their skills. Georgetown has fielded better teams, but as Smith-Rivera continues to blossom, watch for the Hoyas to get hot heading into tournament time. The offense will continue to gel around him, and if he can improve his ability to play in high-pressure situations, don’t be surprised to see the Hoyas make a deep run into the NCAA Tournament.
It may not be this year, but it is only a matter of time before D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera reaches his full potential and takes Georgetown back to the Final Four.