Ahlana Smith brings maturity to Louisville's backcourt


Ahlana Smith brings proven talent to the backcourt of Louisville women’s basketball next season. She has the experience, so Cardinals head coach Jeff Walz believes the 5-foot-9 guard will bring maturity to a group with plenty of talent already.

Smith played her freshman year at UCLA, averaging 12.6 minutes and 3.0 points before transferring to Gulf Coast State, a junior college in Florida for her sophomore season.

Smith led Gulf Coast State with 20.3 points while shooting 43.9% from the field and averaged 4.8 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.0 assists, becoming the 2019-20 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in April.

“When you have the opportunity to learn and grown when you were at UCLA for a year and then a year at a junior-college program, you should come in with a lot more knowledge of what is expected,” Walz said. “How to do things, the level of play and intensity, how you attack a practice.”

Walz says Smith has the skills, but she will have to adjust to playing with other great players, which he believes might take some time.

Louisville’s backcourt has plenty of talent.

Dana Evans was named the ACC Player of the Year after averaging 18.0 points and 4.2 assists as Louisville’s starting point guard. Elizabeth Balogun, who was the ACC Freshman of the Year at Georgia Tech in 2018-19, averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds as a role player last season.

Mykasa Robinson emerged midway through the season as a contributor on both ends of the floor. Kianna Smith, a transfer from CAL, is eligible this upcoming season while Hailey Van Lith arrives at Louisville as a McDonald’s All-American and the top-rated guard in the Class of 2020 by espnW Hoopgurlz.

“She knows we aren’t going to need her to score 25 points a game,” Walz said. “We aren’t going to need anybody to do that, that’s what is going to make them so good.”