Maryland Daily Examiner
In Prince George’s County, success is built on history. Take for instance, former state senator Tommie Broadwater, paving the way as a political trendsetter, and Larry “Shorty” Coleman dubbed “the first Harlem Globetrotter” from the county, names that are etched in stone. Now, comes Coneisha Smith, a shooting guard and the leading scorer in the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference, building an unforgettable legacy at Prince George’s Community College.
Clad in yellow and turquoise Kevin Durant’s Nike sneakers, gray sweat pants, and a Helley Hansen raincoat, Coneisha, shyly but eloquently shared her story in the Lady Owls locker room.
The twice-nominated Most Valuable Player chose the junior college route, in order to prepare academically for a Division 1 scholarship.
“Coming to Prince George’s Community College, I have no regrets and the bonding with my professors is strong,” she said.
It’s the second time around for Coneisha who came to PGCC in 2011, but dropped out because of financial reasons.
Coaches Tiona Harris and Gary Blake encouraged her to return, and Coneisha said she is glad to be back as a student/athlete, making the 30 to 40 minute drive from Waldorf each day for class and workouts for basketball and track.
Coneisha, who maintains a 2.9 Grade Point Average, admits that she has aspirations to compete as an undergraduate student athlete in two sports. She also wants to represent the USA in the Olympics and play in the WNBA. Her name is showcased on a blue and gold flag on the Owls track fence– that reads: “JUCO ALL AMERICAN.”
Coneisha first caught the attention of coach Harris, the Lady Owls head coach, while playing in the Southern Maryland High School vs. Prince George’s County All Star Game in 2011. “I was nervous, but I scored 10 points,” Coneisha recalled. After the game, Harris reached out to Coneisha and the rest is history.
That year, the Lady Owls advanced to the Nationals. Coneisha averaged 11 points per game. “Making the transition from Lackey High to Prince George’s Community College and learning coach Harris’ system was a challenge,” she confessed.
Now, with daily classes, studying after practice, mandatory study hall from 10:00 am– noon, time management is essential to Coneisha. The sophomore sensation said her favorite subject is Community Policing. and she hopes to be a detective, someday.
“Coneisha sits in the middle of the class, participates regularly and ask several questions,” said Cpl. Alaina Gay, who teaches the course. “It’s a pleasure having her in class and she should receive an A.”
During the first half of the Lady Owls 2015-2016 season, Coneisha has been on fire, averaging 30.1 points per game and 13.9 rebounds, in spite of the team’s 2-9 record. Against Westmoreland County Community College, she netted a career high 47 points and 19 rebounds, winning 73-66.
“We knew Coneisha was a good guard, as we had some difficulties matching up with her, when she played at Prince George’s Community College, a couple of year ago. She creates issues at both ends of the court,” said Richard Holler, assistant coach at Westmoreland.
When Butch McAdams, host of Radio One Talk Show on WOL- 1450 AM, heard about this scoring machine, he wanted her on his show, “In and Out of Sports featuring Current Stars, Legends and Future Stars” on Dec. 6.
Her teammate, Ivie Foster, a 5’8” freshman starting at center, describes Coneisha as eager, driven and dedicated to the sport. Their bonding is inseparable and it began on the first day of practice. “I tutored her in math; we do our homework at my house, and on the court, she tutors me,” explained Foster, an aspiring criminal justice major. “She will text me before every game; she’s my big sister, who always says, ‘I need you all the time in the paint, make points.’”
During practice, Coneisha jogs a few laps, while dribbling with her left hand. Lining up to do wind sprints under 12 seconds, she displays a galloping stride, almost effortlessly. In a three on two drill, she made a defensive stop, but missed the layup. Consequences? Yes! Pushups. According to her remarkable stats, she doesn’t miss layups often. Towards the end of practice, with ease and a perfect backspin rotation, she made 10 consecutive free throws.
Fans believe Coneisha can dominate a game…..on a regular basis. But, what’s equally essential, she believes, too. Stats don’t lie. The night she tallied 47 points, she simply wanted a win. “I was tired of losing and I didn’t know I could accomplish something that big. Averaging 30 points per game does not seem like I’m averaging that amount. It’s regular basketball,” said the Maryland JUCO Athletic Division 3 Conference leading scorer.
With her skill set, will and tenacity, Coneisha is confident that she could compete at Maryland, Georgetown, George Washington University and South Carolina and continue to run track. Now, 22, the Waldorf, Maryland native, boldly admitted that she’s working relentlessly on every aspect of her game.
Doris Harris, a season ticket holder at the University of Maryland, has followed women’s basketball for the past 20 years. She witnessed the game on Dec. 3, a tough loss to Cumberland, 70-69. Coneisha led all scorers with 31 points, 14 in the first half with support from Rashanda Chandler, a shooting point guard.
“Coneisha is a very strong player, unstoppable on the inside. The team played great, they consistently found the open player, they just needed to finish, meaning, play defense to the end and hit their free throws. Getting to the next level, with her height, she’ll need to shoot more from the outside and people will notice her even more then they are now,” concluded Harris, Director of ERP System Services Administrative Technology Services at PGCC.
We’re a young team, learning from each other, growing pains, right now, but things will get better with us,”Coneisha said.
She said she enjoys traveling and she loves the exposure for her and the Lady Owls. Prior to leaving the locker room for game time, Coneisha initiates the pep talk. Her rapport with Coach Tiona Harris is like no other. “I have nothing but love for Coach Harris and my assistant coach. They have truly molded me as a player,” Coneisha said.
The feeling is mutual. Harris, who has coached at PGCC for eight years, has had some major scorers, a couple who were top of the nation, but she clearly points out, there is something different about Coneisha, who she calls, “Pinky.”
“Her all–around hustle and drive, not just scoring, but everything, she’s definitely at the top of one of my specials,” said Harris, a former point guard at Parkdale High.
She said she “definitely” considered Coneisha a Division 1 prospect. “Any offers under Division 1, she’ll be taking over. Currently, she had a tough math class, but she passed with a B. She’s a good diamond in the rough.”
After every game, family members, text or visit the home. A desire to get better, she’s receptive to criticism from Kenneth Balton, a family friend. Her sisters, Andrea Mullings, 39 and Kimeasha Drysdale, 31 are extremely supportive. Her mother, Andrea Allen,a registered nurse has seen Coneisha in action. Genetically addicted to basketball, Coneisha’s mother, and father, Newton Smith, were ballers in Jamacia. Her brother, Wesley Jennings, played football at Lackey High.
Outside of the college life, Coneisha is a movie–goer, she loves laser tagging, and occasionally swims. One of her favorite movies, was the biopic of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. She also eats a lot of fruit and loves steak.
The introduction to the hoop game began in the sixth grade at Matthew Henson Middle School- thanks to Andre Copelin, an educator. He noticed Coneisha playing with a basketball and he inquired if she played. Initially, she said, no. B but when people have a knack for athletic potential, they normally do not quit. “Try,” Copelin suggested. And, she did. The first attempt to dribble a basketball and run simultaneously, was awfully hard. However, three weeks later, the move became routine.
When she was in the ninth grade Copelin recommended Coneisha to Mark Thomas, a AAU coach for the Lady Clippers. She became the Most Improved Player and represented a national title team in Florida, in 2009. Playing four years with Thomas and at Lackey High, prepared her for the next level.
At Lackey, Coneisha played varsity basketball in the tenth grade, and started her last two years. As a junior and senior, the All Conference First Team selectee tallied 24 points per game, 10 rebounds and four assists–, losing to Chopticon in postseason play, in back-to-back seasons, Coneisha then decided to head to junior college.
“She’s a hard worker, so athletic, and I knew she would do big things,” Mark Thomas said.
With the second half of the Lady Owls season is right around the corner, Coneisha is looking ahead to a Division I invitation and to seal her legacy at Prince George’s Community College.