Husker senior forward Leslee Smith is back home in his native country this week, representing the British Virgin Islands in the FIBA Caribbean Basketball Championships.
Smith, a 6-8 forward, has helped the British Virgin Islands to a 2-0 start in the preliminary round, averaging 8.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He opened competition with nine points and four rebounds in 20 minutes of work a 99-63 win over Guyana on Tuesday and had eight points, four rebounds, four steals and a pair of blocked shots in 19 minutes in an 81-77 win over Barbados last night.
The British Virgin Islands will take on the Virgin Islands tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. (CT) in a matchup of unbeaten teams in Group B, while both teams will advance to the semifinals as the top two finishers in the group.
The semifinals take place on Friday with the championship round set for Saturday. Antigua, Bahamas, Cuba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the other nations in the eight-team event. The top three teams earn berths to Centrobasket Championship where they compete for spots in the FIBA Americas Championship, from which they can qualify for the FIBA World Cup/Championship or the Olympic Games.
Smith played a major role in the Huskers reaching the 2014 NCAA Tournament, as he played in all 32 games and averaged 5.4 points on a team-high 52 percent shooting and 4.8 rebounds per game to rank third on the team in rebounding. Despite making only one start, Smith led the Huskers with three double-doubles and ranked ninth among Big Ten played with five double-figure rebound efforts in 2013-14.
This is the second time he has played for the British Virgin Islands in International competition, as he played in five games in the 2009 Caribbean Basketball Championships for his native country.
Smith’s competition this week will be the first of two international competitions for Huskers, as Tai Webster will play for New Zealand later this summer.