HomeSportsSmith trying to lead Crusaders to long tournament run

Smith trying to lead Crusaders to long tournament run

Devon Nappier Smith is a leader.

Whether that comes naturally or if it’s simply because of the positions he plays in football and basketball for Liberty Tech at quarterback and point guard, leading on the field and on the court is what he does.

As he’s wrapping up his senior season – his third as a starter – for Crusader basketball, his leadership is important for him and his fellow seniors to hopefully lead the team past the region tournament.

But it’s also for the future of the program.

“I definitely want Liberty basketball to be good after we’re gone because I want something good to come watch when I come back to support the guys who will be here next year,” Nappier Smith said. “When I was a freshman, one of our seniors that year, Richard Gill, took me under his wing and helped me out – especially after he got hurt and I had to start a game in his place.

“And I’ve tried to do the same with his little brother, Rashad, who could be the point guard next year for us.”

Nappier Smith also tries to be a leader by example.

Evidence of that is a conversation he had with a faculty member at Liberty this week when he stopped in the office.

He was asked how the blister on his hand was. He said it was fine and he’s OK.

That blister came from going after a loose ball during the Crusaders’ game against South Side last week at home. It was going out of bounds, and he dove for it.

As he put his hand on the court to brace himself as he dove, his hand rubbed so hard on the floor that the blister came up.

“It grew pretty big the first couple days, and I actually had a hard time shooting with it the next game,” Nappier Smith said. “But it’s shrunk since then, and I’m OK with it.”

The fact the blister is better is good for the Crusaders as they’re set to begin their postseason this weekend. Because there’s only four teams in their district, they’re all guaranteed a spot in their region tournament no matter what happens.

So Liberty has at least three games left in its season, and Nappier Smith has three games left in his career.

He plans to go to the University of Memphis and major in computer engineering. He also has plans to possibly tryout for the Tigers football team as a walk-on. Before that, he’s considering playing baseball for Liberty for the first time ever.

“Coach is talking to me about it, and I may do it so I can go out the right way at Liberty,” Nappier Smith said. “But before that I hope to work with my teammates to get Liberty back to Murfreesboro for the state tournament.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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