Athlete of the Week: Purdue-bound guard caps stellar Westfield High School career with regional run


Westfield High School coach Shane Sumpter has always known what a special talent he has had in Braden Smith.

“In my opinion, in the sectional he showed he was the best player in Indiana,” Sumpter said. “It’s the toughest sectional in the state, and we had to do to go through Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern and Carmel. We played Carmel three years in a row in the sectional final and finally got over the hump. To do what Braden did, and all on a broken foot, was simply amazing.”

AA ATHLETE OF THE WEEK 0329 head shot

The 6-foot senior point guard, who will play for Purdue University next season, contributed 22 points, seven assists and seven rebounds March 5 in the Shamrocks’ 59-54 victory over defending Class 4A state champion Carmel in the sectional final. The sectional championship was the first ever for Westfield’s boys basketball team.

“It was awesome to be a part of that,” said Smith, whose team beat Homestead in the regional opener before losing to Kokomo in the final. “It never happened before, so that makes it even crazier.”

Smith said many WHS graduates came out to support the team and said how much it meant to them to see the team go so far.

“It’s always been our goal to win the sectional,” Smith said. “It was not just the sectional, even though it’s the first one ever. It was to go farther and farther. That was the mindset.”

Smith missed several games with a broken left foot injury suffered Jan. 21. Smith, who had surgery on that same foot in July 2021, returned to play just before the sectional. In the three sectional games, he made 28 of 40 shots from the field.

Westfield, which finished 22-7, had lost to Fishers by 25 points when Smith was sidelined during the regular season. Smith had 28 points and 10 assists as the Shamrocks turned the table with a 62-44 sectional victory. He then had 22 points against a 77-50 rout of HSE, avenging an early season loss. The 22 victories broke the previous school record of 18, which Westfield had tied in 2021.

“Braden has been a huge part of where our basketball program is now,” Sumpter said. “He’s had a tremendous career.”

Smith said his leadership, along with the other seven seniors, was crucial to winning the title.

Smith, an Indiana Mr. Basketball candidate, is resting his foot so it can heal. He doesn’t plan to play again until he reports to Purdue this summer.

“My main goal is to be 100 percent healthy when I go to Purdue,” said Smith, who doesn’t yet know if he’ll play for the Indiana All-Stars against Kentucky.

Smith, the school’s all-time leading scorer, averaged 18.3 points and six assists per game. He averaged 22 points as a junior.

Smith said his range has been consistent.

“If I’m confident, I’ll shoot it from wherever,” he said.

Smith said he wasn’t a Purdue fan until the last two seasons.

“When college coaches started reaching out, I didn’t really like or dislike any school,” said Smith, who plans to major in business. “Whatever school gave me the opportunity to play basketball and go to school for free, there is nothing you can’t like about that. They gave me the opportunity and I took it.”

Favorite athlete: Step Curry

Favorite subject: English

Favorite TV show: “Peaky Blinders”

Favorite vacation spot: Florida