Laney coach Smart to receive award in Atlanta

After taking his team to Milledgeville and then Macon, Laney girls basketball coach Otis Smart will soon be off to Atlanta.

Smart, whose team reached the Class AA state championship game, is the Bobby Cremins Girls Georgia High School Coach of the Year. Smart will be honored Tuesday, March 19, at the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s 2013 Naismith Awards Banquet, held at the Georgia International Convention Center.

“It’s a blessing. I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Smart said. “We had a good run. I feel good about these young ladies — they worked hard.

“I’m very honored to be there. I just appreciate it. A lot of people around me helped develop me into a pretty good coach, and I give credit to them.”

Smart is the first Augusta-area coach to win a Bobby Cremins coach of the year award since Glenn Hills’ Richard Wallace was the boys coach recipient in 2008, when the Spartans won the Class AAA state championship.

This season, Smart’s team finished 30-1. In the state playoffs, the Lady Wildcats won four games by an average of 33.8 points before they lost to Wesleyan, 76-43, in the championship game.

“Everything that happed was really good this year, with (Khadijiah Cave) signing with Baylor, winning the region and the Christmas tournament,” Smart said.

Not only has Laney made it to at least the state semifinals five seasons in a row, but it has gone 88-5 the past three seasons. It also hasn’t lost to a Richmond County school since a Dec. 23, 2009 defeat to Hephzibah.

Smart has won more than 700 games at Laney since he took over as the Lady Wildcats’ head coach in the mid-1980s.

“I enjoy working with the kids,” Smart said. “It’s about the kids — I had no idea I’d be honored. It’s about the kids’ hard work and standing out.”

 

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