Former prep girls’ basketball greats Angel Robinson (St. Paul Central), Lauryn Smith (St. Paul Johnson) and Kiara Buford (St. Paul Central) have accomplished plenty on and off the court. One recently became a champion, another signed on to continue an already brilliant college career at the collegiate level, while a third former outstanding prep and collegiate player proved that she is among the state’s best coaches.
Robinson had quite the birthday this past weekend. On Saturday May, 13 — the same day the 5’7” guard turned 28 — she became a champion, leading her Helios (Switzerland) women’s professional team to the Swiss Championships while capturing MVP honors in her fifth season.
Robinson is most remembered for her part in St. Paul Central’s 32-0 season 10 years ago, resulting in a Class 4A state championship. After being named Ms. Basketball in 2007, she went on to an outstanding career at Marquette University and was a WNBA draft pick in 2011.
Many call that Central squad, which also included future Division I players Georgie Jones, Thearria Taylor and Buford, the most dominant team in state history.
Smith, one of the best girls’ basketball players to play at St. Paul Johnson, recently signed a letter of intent to continue her collegiate career at Division II St. Augustus (Georgia) University after an outstanding two-year career at Iowa Lakes Community College.
Smith, a 5’4” guard who averaged 12 points and 4.6 assists per game at Iowa Lakes, was a three-time all-conference performer for Johnson during a four-year varsity career (2011-2015) in which she topped the 1,000-point career mark.
Buford is one of the best-kept secrets in Minnesota when it comes to coaching basketball. The former St. Paul Central girls’ basketball great and University of Minnesota great led the Robbinsdale Cooper girls’ basketball team to one of its best records in the school’s history.
Buford, a 5’11” forward known as a fierce leader and competitor during her playing days, led the Hawks to a 13-1 Metro West Conference record and 23-3 overall behind the outstanding play of Aja Wheeler, Ja’Hayia Gaston, Lauren Johnson and Kierra Wheeler.
Buford, who played for St. Paul Central from 2004-2008, was part of two Class 4A state championship teams for St. Paul Central.
After being part of the Minutemen’s memorable 2007 title run, she — with Robinson moving on to Marquette and Jones and Taylor returning — led them to a second-straight championship the following year.
Mitchell Palmer McDonald welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.