LSU commit Ja'Vante Smart channels Chris Paul while honoring late father

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Ja’Vonte Smart participated in the Under Armour Elite 24 as a rising junior in 2016. (AP)
Ja’Vonte Smart participated in the Under Armour Elite 24 as a rising junior in 2016. (AP)

Before Chris Paul was nine-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul or even First Team All-American Chris Paul, he was best known as the West Forsyth (N.C.) High senior who scored exactly 61 points one game after his 61-year-old grandfather Nathaniel Jones was murdered outside his Winston-Salem home in 2002.

LSU commit Ja’Vante Smart tried to replicate that tribute 15 years later.

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“Today was my dad’s birthday,” Smart told on Saturday. “I was planning on getting 42 points because today he was turning 42 years old. He died when I was 7. I give it all to him.”

Instead, the Scotlandville (Baton Rouge, La.) senior exploded for 59 points, converting 17-of-27 field goal attempts and shooting 7-of-14 from 3-point range. (Scotlandville originally credited Smart with more than 60 points, but the official scorekeeper had him at 59.) Had he stopped at 42, his Hornets may not have eked out an 85-77 win against Little Elm (Texas) at the Thanksgiving Hoopfest in Dallas.

The 6-foot-4 Smart added 10 rebounds and seven assists for good measure, which means the four-star point guard had a direct hand in 24 of his team’s 27 field goals. Surely, his father would be proud.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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