TEANECK, N.J. - Tyler Smith could very well have been playing against the University of Arkansas next season, but now he's toying with the idea of playing with them instead.
Smith, a 6-6, 210-pound small forward from Giles County High School in Pulaski, Tenn., originally signed with the University of Tennessee, but decided not to go to Knoxville when the Volunteers fired Buzz Peterson and brought in Bruce Pearl.
When he was not let out of his scholarship, Smith decided to head to Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Va., and play next season instead for Kevin Keatts , who coached current Razorback Darian Townes there two years ago.
"Coach Keatts is a real good coach and gets involved with his players," Smith said. "I went up there and visited after the Bob Gibbons Tournament and just really enjoyed it. It is a structured program and that is what I really need. Where I am from is a little old town. Down there I will be with top-notch players and playing against top-notch competition."
Smith, who averaged 22 points per game this past season and is at the Reebok ABCD Camp this week, has thus re-opened his recruiting and has Arkansas among the teams on his list.
Certainly there is a lot of interest in a player who was ranked as the 39th-best overall player in the country in the class of 2005 by Scout.com.
"I would say that Arkansas is definitely in my top five," Smith said. "I also want to take a look at Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis and teams like that."
He's had a chance to watch Arkansas' program on TV the past two seasons and likes what he has seen in terms of tempo and young talent.
"I have watched a lot of their games on JPS (Jefferson-Pilot Sports)," Smith said. "I was up here with a couple of players and they love getting up and down the floor. I know they are really about to get it going this year with a guy like Ronnie Brewer leading the way."
Smith,a great leaper, is averaging 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds this week during his first five games of the ABCD event with a high of 14 in Wednesday's second game.
"I see myself as either a 2 guard or a 3," Smith said. "I need to work on my shot to make it as good as my cutting and slashing game. I am really strong getting to the rack. It is the best part of my game right now."
He just wants to put Tennessee behind him and look to the future.
"I don't really have anything to prove," Smith said. "I just want to get everything straighten out and start over. I have no hard feelings toward Coach Pearl or nothing like that. It's just that it happened at the wrong time. Now' I'll just look ahead."
Tyler Smith's Fresh Start
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