DeAndre Smelter had a pretty sobering moment Feb. 27.
The Tattnall Square senior, who most know as a multi-sport standout, walked off the basketball court for the final time with the Trojans following a 56-41 loss to Deerfield-Windsor in the GISA Class AAA championship game.
In was the second time this school year that Smelter’s career in one of his three sports had come to a close. He decided to give up football prior to his senior season and decided to concentrate on baseball, the sport in which he is considered a pro prospect.
“It’s tough to think that it’s over,” Smelter said following that game. “I love playing basketball, and we’ve had a great season. I’m proud of our season but sad to see it end.”
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Smelter had plenty to be proud of after leading his Trojans to the state championship game. It was the first time any Bibb County GISA AAA team has played for a state championship since 2004. As a result of the standout season, Smelter was named The Telegraph’s All-Middle Georgia GISA Boys Basketball Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
“He is such a joy to coach,” Tattnall head coach Paul Brooks said. “He’s a winner, and he has the ability to put a team on his back and takeover. I’ve never coached an athlete like him, and I probably never will again.”
Smelter was a steady force all season for the Trojans. He averaged 17.points and 7.9 rebounds, both of which led Region 2-AAA among reported stats. He had games where he played well all night, and he had others when he stepped up when needed.
Against Mount de Sales, Smelter navigated the Cavaliers full-court press as a point guard and led his team to an overtime win. Three nights later, Smelter scored 27 points to beat Stratford.
“He can be whatever we need him to be,” Brooks said earlier this year.
Smelter’s biggest moments, however, came in the playoffs.
The senior drove to the basket in a tie game and drew a foul late in his team’s second-round matchup with Westminster. He made two free throws with less than five seconds left for the win.
Against Mount Vernon Presbyterian in the state semifinals, Smelter overcame a critical turnover to follow his own miss with a putback at the buzzer for a two-point win.
“How many guys would just sulk and let that take them out of the game?” Brooks asked about the turnover. “But not him. That just says so much about his heart and his character and his desire. He throws us on his back sometimes, and he did it there at the end.”
Combined with his football, basketball, baseball and overall athlete honors, Smelter has been named an All-Middle Georgia player of the year five times in his prep career, which is the most for any athlete in Middle Georgia history.