NICK SMITH JR.

Nick Smith Jr., the nationally regarded high school basketball player who transferred from Sylvan Hills High School to North Little Rock High School ahead of his senior year, will be allowed to play this season after all, the North Little Rock School District and Pulaski County Special School District said in a joint statement. The news was first reported by Marine Glisovic of KATV.

Smith, set to play for the Razorbacks next season, was ruled ineligible to play earlier this week. But whether that was an Arkansas Athletics Association decision or was related to action or inaction by North Little Rock and Pulaski County is in dispute. In the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today, AAA Executive Director Lance Taylor said the school districts hadn’t signed off on the transfer and the AAA wasn’t involved.

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The joint statement throws a lot of shade at the AAA.

“NLRSD and PCSSD superintendents extensively conferred with AAA and, after additional conversations over the last two days, it became apparent the AAA is not prepared to resolve this issue. Both school districts agree there were violations of AAA rules but have determined this was at no fault of the student-athlete or the family. … ”

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The statement goes on to cite concerns related to AAA “rules, procedures, systems and accountability structure.”

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Smith’s plight drew inspired tweets from NBA superstar Bradley Beal (Smith played for his Bradley Beal Elite AAU squad) and Daniel Gafford, Beal’s NBA teammate, a former Razorback and El Dorado native.

Sen. Missy Irvin, chair of the Senate Education Committee, said yesterday she wanted to hold a meeting with the AAA and Smith Thursday to learn more about the issue. She praised the news today, but appears to still be set on the hearing.