Center picks Bruins over Washington.

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Joshua Smith kept weighing his options and UCLA kept coming out on top.

So the 6-foot-10 senior from Kentwood High School in Covington decided to make it official Monday and gave his oral commitment to the Bruins. Washington was the runner-up in the sweepstakes for the basketball player rated by some sites as the No. 1 high-school center in the country.

“They’ve kind of been the front-runner for a while, them and UW,” Smith said of the Bruins. “They’ve both been recruiting me since the beginning. In the end, when I looked at everything I was looking for, I decided UCLA was my choice.”

He said location was a prime factor, with Washington being a 25-minute drive away and UCLA being a two-hour flight.

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“Neither one was too far from my family,” Smith said. “And both of them don’t really have a big man right now, or their big man would rather be a four than a five, and it would be important for me to be an impact player right away.”

He said he has family on his mother’s side living in California that he is looking forward to reconnecting with.

Before giving his commitment to the UCLA coaching staff, Smith said his first call was to UW coach Lorenzo Romar.

“I said thank you for everything, but I’ve made my decision to go to UCLA,” Smith said.

And he got the blessings of his parents.

“His family supports his decision,” said his mother, Tracy Smith. “We talked about it over the weekend.”

The early signing period begins Wednesday, but Tracy Smith said she had “no idea” when Joshua actually will sign his letter of intent or whether there will be a signing ceremony. If there is a ceremony, it will not be at Kentwood, she said.

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