It has been a roundabout high school basketball journey for Quadree Smith, one that started in the Washington, D.C. before moving to Fairfax, Va. Now, four years after enrolling at Archbishop Carroll and two-plus years under the tutelage of Glen Farello at Paul VI, Smith has come home.
What a homecoming it has been.
Wolverine students took to Twitter to express their delight in Smith's enrolling at his hometown public school two weeks ago, including teammates Dion Wiley and Randall Broddie. Smith quickly immersed himself into the school, midway through the academic and basketball year, surprising even coach Renard Johnson.
“It's interesting,” he said after Smith made his Potomac debut, in which the 6-foot-7, 285-pound big man went for 13 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists in an 84-72 win over Crossland, “because the minute he walked into school, he knew more people than I knew. I'm not exaggerating — him and Dion have probably played 100 games together. He's a neighborhood guy. This is where he's from, this is his school, he's just returning to his school. I don't even see him as a transfer.”
Johnson may not see Smith as a transfer, but the rest of the surrounding area certainly does. With the added presence of another Division I recruit — Smith maintains he is still leaning towards UNC Greensboro despite reneging on his verbal commitment — numerous websites, writers, athletes, and even a few area coaches took to social media to dub the Wolverines the Class 2A state champion favorites.
With Wiley, a University of Maryland signee and the previous top-ranked recruit in the state, Broddie, another likely Division I-bound guard, Anthony Smith, a power forward garnering interest from upper-level schools, and now Quadree Smith, there are no visible weaknesses in this year's Potomac team.
“He'll dominate the public schools,” said Keith Stevens, who coaches both Wiley and Quadree Smith for the well-known Amateur Athletic Union program, Team Takeover. “Especially with guards like Dion and Broddie around him because they can't double him or he'll just kick it to Dion, and they can't double Dion because he'll get it to 'Q.'”
As could have been expected, the movement of such a high-profile athlete so late in the season did not come without grumblings or rumors. Several sites listed a recruiting argument between Quadree's father, Rob, and Farello as the sole reason for Quadree's leaving.
Farello encouraged Quadree to sign with UNC Greensboro during the early signing period, according to Rob, but the Smiths preferred to wait and see if Spartan coach Wes Miller would be offered a contract extension. The Smiths wanted to ensure Quadree was going someplace where he would be coached by the same man who recruited him.
“It made sense to see what kind of system they were running, who was going to change jobs,” Rob Smith said. “Because a lot of the times they'll sell you on it and then they'll leave the school and your son is still signed to go there.”
So Quadree reopened his recruitment, which caused a rift between the family and Farello. This, however, is “probably the fourth or fifth reason,” according to Rob, that Quadree ultimately decided to transfer to Potomac.
Because Paul VI is about 2 to 2½ hours away from his Oxon Hill home, Quadree's alarm was set at 4 a.m. weekday mornings. He would regularly return home around 11 p.m., crank out homework until past midnight, take a glorified nap, and then repeat the process. The mental and physical toll wore on him.
At Potomac, he is able to wake up nearly three hours later and arrive home sometimes up to five hours earlier. His allotted time for studying has nearly tripled, the financial cost of a two-hour commute each way reduced to nearly nothing, and any politics removed entirely. Smith is just playing basketball again.
“Everything's been great,” he said a few days prior to scoring 21 points and grabbing 21 rebounds in a 113-41 win over Friendly. “I know basically the whole school. It felt like I was just going from one home to another.”
The senior spoke kindly of his time at Paul VI, which came with a WCAC championship his sophomore year and a top 10 national ranking this season. But he appeared generally content, relaxed with longtime teammate, Wiley, and Broddie, whom he attended middle school with, in the backcourt.
“Dion knows how I like to play and I know how he likes to play,” Smith said. “The IQ that I have with Dion on the court, it's like a tag team out there.”