|GiGi decked out in ODU gear.|
The important words to to call Gianna/ GiGi Smith are Lady Monarch. The 5-10 guard from Maury High in Norfolk committed to Old Dominion on Wednesday.
"I never knew how I got that nickname," says the bubbly Smith. "When I was younger, they used to call me Missy because my mother dressed me up so grown. My nickname became GiGi. Either one is fine with me. I'm probably the only person who gets called by my nickname and my real name."
She was a model as a little kid and a middle school cheerleader, and she liked track, too (Smith might run the 800 for Maury this spring), but basketball is special to her.
"I started AAU when I was 6," Smith says. "And I always played up. Off the court, I'm girly. On the court, it's a whole different part of me. I'm not going to be girly. I'm out there as if I'm in a boys body."
Lots of schools courted her, and many figured she'd wind up at Virginia Tech. She and Hokie-bound teammate Chanette Hicks were two of 135 players invited to the Under-16 National Team Trials last May. While Smith considered other schools -- Tech among them -- she never wavered from ODU, largely thanks to an instant connection she feels toward coach Karen Barefoot and her staff.
"That connection grew over the years," Smith said. "She kept recruiting me so hard. She kept recruiting me, kept recruiting me. She was there for every single one of my games. Every single one. She never missed one."
Smith has already spent plenty of time inside the Constant Center as a fan.
"I love watching Galaisha Goodhope play. Her being the guard I love, I would to play with her," Smith says. "Shae (Kelley) is wonderful as well. I love everything about her. She's so great at both ends of the game. Shakeva (Richards) is always energized. She'll pick you up in a minute. Everybody on that team picks each other up. I love Chelisa (Painter). I've known her since high school. I love everybody on that team and that staff."
When she's not ballin', Smith enjoys watching the Maury boys play, shopping, singing and eating.
Basketball: "I like supporting boys basketball. It's good and entertaining to watch. I pick up a lot of stuff from watching them play and try to incorporate that into my game." (She's also a huge fan of the Duke men, Syracuse and Kentucky.)
Shopping: "My weakness would probably be Rainbow." (You might see her in a ballin' outfit highlighted by accessories.)
Singing: "Even though I can't sing, I just sing. A song comes on, and I like singing it. I've been singing Ariana Grande for days now. She's all I've been listening to."
Eating: "I love eating food. I go crazy if I don't eat. I won't talk to anybody; I'll cut my phone off. If I don't eat, it's a bad thing. I turn into the hulk or something; I go crazy." (Her indulgences are Subway: a footlong flatbread oven-roasted chicken with American cheese and McDonald's: two double cheeseburgers, a large fry and a bottle of water.
"I always drink water," she says. "That's all I've been drinking for 2 1/2 years."
Smith plans to major in double major in law and communications (her must-see show is Law and Order: Criminal Intent, by the way).
"I can be a sports agent, a lawyer," she says. "I know for a fact that my degrees will get me far in life even if my basketball doesn't continue after college."
We have a feeling that basketball career is pretty promising, too.