Versatile Smith Should Help Backcourt

CLEMSON - Three-star forward Tanner Smith talks about his expected role with the Tigers this season.

CUTIGERS INTERVIEW: (3:22)

While there are other players that may have received more hype in Clemson's 2008-09 recruiting class on the hardwood, such as four-star standouts center Catalin "Bobo" Baciu and point guard Andre Young, Georgia native Tanner Smith could prove just as valuable in the long run.

Smith, who stands in at 6-feet-5 inches tall, averaged over 25 points per game at one point during his high school career, should provide help at shooting guard and even some at small forward this coming season for head coach Oliver Purnell and the Clemson basketball team later this fall.

But his versatility doesn't end there.

Smith is also used to having the ball in his hands and even has extensive experience running the point.

"I played there in high school and in AAU," Smith told CUTigers.com. "So that's a little bit of a transition moving to the two and the three. But I can handle the ball so when I'm on the wing I can take it to the hole and not feel uncomfortable doing it."

Shooting, of course, also is an important part of Smith's game.

Clemson has upgraded its shooters in each of the last two classes, starting with guards Demontez Stitt and Terrence Oglesby last year, and now Smith and Andre Young should provide that help this coming season.

"With our style of play, we've got to be deep so we need several of these guys to come in and help us. Tanner Smith is just a good basketball player. He's a good shooter who could play a couple of positions for us and help us upgrade our offense." - Oliver Purnell
While the Tigers did improve by several percentage points from the free throw line last season, there is still plenty of work to be done.

"I think that one thing everybody knows is we had trouble with last year was finishing games," said Smith. "That's one thing we need to learn, including myself- finishing games. We dominated teams last year until five minutes left and then we would end up falling short. Whether that's making free throws, making that one last stop- whatever it is we've got to get better at it."

While Clemson should be favored to finish in the upper half of the ACC next season, the loss of players like James Mays, Cliff Hammonds and Sam Perry leave significant holes from last year's team.

However with players like Smith, Young and 7-1 center Bobo Baicu, the Tigers may actually be better suited to score the basketball down the stretch in close games compared to what they've been able to do in past seasons.

"With our style of play, we've got to be deep so we need several of these guys to come in and help us," said Purnell. "Tanner Smith is just a good basketball player. We need more, just good basketball players like him.

"He's a good shooter who could play a couple of positions for us and help us upgrade our offense. Offensively we should be very a dangerous team."

And even though Smith hasn't even played a game in Littlejohn Coliseum just yet, he's already thrilled to be a part of the Clemson basketball program.

"I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be recruited by an ACC school," he said. "When I was little and watching ACC games with my dad we would talk about it and I never would have thought I would have gotten this opportunity.

"I'm just happy to be here."

Scout.com Player Evaluation:
STRENGTHS
 Multi-Positional
 Passing
 Poise
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
 3-Point Range
 Explosiveness
 Finisher
Solid wing prospect who could play small forward and maybe some shooting guard down the road. Has a great feel/understanding of the game. Shot is reliable and could get even stronger behind the arc. Good player.


CUTigers.com Top Stories