Tompkins senior guard Crystal Smith was named as a nominee for the 44th annual McDonald’s All-American girls team on Thursday.
Tompkins senior guard Crystal Smith was named a nominee for the 44th annual McDonald’s All-American team on Thursday, Feb. 18.
For the second consecutive season, the prestigious boys and girls All-American games will not be played due to health and safety reasons because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but athletes have the recognition of being named finalists, as well as those who are eventually named to the teams.
More than 700 girls and boys basketball players were nominated to the teams, which honor the best talent from around the country. Smith is one of 21 players from the Houston area named as a nominee.
“While we’re disappointed we can’t hold in-person games this year, that does not take away from the accomplishments of this class and they will forever be a part of the legendary group of past and present McDonald’s All Americans,” selection committee chairman Joe Wootten said in a statement.
Smith is averaging 12.3 points, 3.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the No. 14 state-ranked Falcons, who are 19-3 and in the regional quarterfinals of the playoffs for the first time since 2015-16.
“I saw the post on Instagram,” Smith said. “I wasn’t thinking I was going to be on it, but as I read all the names, I saw mine and immediately dropped my phone. I texted my mom and she congratulated me and said how proud she was of me. That meant the most, just seeing all the hard work behind the scenes come to light.”
Tompkins coach Tamatha Ray is effusive in praise of her star guard.
“I don’t know if I have enough words,” Ray said. “The kid just wants to play ball. She is constantly putting in the work, and not just going to the gym and shooting. She is working. Before practice, after practice … she’s that gym rat, but she comes in with an objective and doesn’t leave until she checks that box. She puts in the hours, the touches, and that’s why her game has improved year after year. Some players plateau after their junior year. Not her. She doesn’t quit working.”
Smith is the program’s all-time leader in career points. The two-way point guard is a signee to Tarleton State University.
“This is something I’ve always dreamed about and was a goal that I didn’t tell anyone but my trainer,” Smith said. “Just seeing my name on the list was like watching a dream come true and was just one of the ways of showing the people who have poured into me along the way that it was worth it.”
The 21 Houston area players named as nominees:
Joshua Fanuiel, Fort Bend Elkins High School, Missouri City
Noah Kon, Houston Christian High School, Houston
Edgar Romero, Strake Jesuit College Prep, Houston
Kaleb Stewart, Atascocita High School, Humble
Raven Adams, Ridge Point High School, Missouri City
Gia Adams, Jersey Village High School, Houston
Amani Bartlett, Houston Christian High School, Houston
Alexis Clayborne, Clear Falls High School, League City
Aleighyah Fontenot, Ridge Point High School, Missouri City
Tori Garza, New Caney High School, New Caney
Payton Gorgan, Westside High School, Houston
Rori Harmon, Cypress Creek High School, Houston
Kyndall Hunter, Cypress Creek High School, Houston
Jada Malone, The Village School, Houston
Adaora Nwokeji, Summer Creek High School, Houston
Briana Peguero, Jersey Village High School, Houston
Kaley Perkins, Langham Creek High School, Houston
Shanna Petty, Westside High School, Houston
Crystal Smith, OD Tompkins High School, Katy
Bre'yon White, Shadow Creek High School, Pearland
Kaiya Wynn, Foster High School, Richmond
The final team roster of 48 players will be announced later this month. The 2021 class will be honored through a virtual celebration.