Like an extraordinarily beautiful woman with extremely high intellect, there are a handful of people who are brilliant and athletically gifted.
One who shares both traits is Kenyatta Smith, who starred in basketball and volleyball for Flintridge Prep in La Canada.
And if that wasn’t enough, Smith, who led the Rebels to their first-ever CIF Southern Section Division V-AA hoop title in 2011, and the second-round of the State Tournament, was an honors student whose grades landed him at Harvard University, where the sophomore is majoring in economics.
This past week, Smith, who poured in nearly 20 points with 16 rebounds during his senior season at Flintridge Prep, distinguished himself on the national stage as the No. 14 seeded Crimson upset No. 3 New Mexico, 68-62, in the second round of the NCAA men’s college basketball tourney in Salt Lake City.
In last Thursday’s West Regional battle at EnergySolutions Arena, Smith scored 10 points, collected seven rebounds, and blocked a game-high two shots in 19 minutes, as Harvard took it to the heavily-favored Lobos, and in so doing achieved its first-ever win in the tournament which began in 1939.
Smith is a 6-foot-8 center who challenged Alex Kirk, the much taller New Mexico center.
Though Kirk, who is a 7-footer, led the Lobos with 22 points and 12 boards, he worked hard for every point.
Smith was efficient from the floor, making four of seven shots, and canned all two attempts from the free-throw line.
Harvard led 31-27 at the half, and shot 52.4 percent (22 of 42) from the floor, while hitting eight of 18 (44.4 percent) from the three-point line.
New Mexico (29-6) sank 37.5 percent (21 of 56) of its shots from the field, but outrebounded the Crimson, 31-25.
Two days later, Harvard’s dream season ended with No. 6 Arizona’s 74-51 thumping behind senior point guard Mark Lyons’ game-high 27 points.
Even in defeat, Smith shined as he paced the Crimson (20-10) with 10 points and five boards in 23 minutes, but the team struggled, connecting on 16 of 58 (27.6 percent).
The Wildcats (27-7) drilled 55.1 percent of their shots (27 of 49), and hit nine of 15 (60.0 percent) from the three-point line.
Smith dropped four of nine attempts, knocked down two of two from the charity line, and contributed a block and three steals, which were co-game highs.