When I first eyed Joshua Smith, I have to admit I was a bit underwhelmed. He was certainly big; listed at 6-foot-9, 270 lbs (and I think the latter number may have been generous), I immediately reflected on the big men coach John Calipari will have at his disposal: Patrick Patterson, Perry Stevenson, Daniel Orton and DeMarcus Cousins all have some commonality; they are long, lean and muscular. Josh appeared heavier and softer, quite a contrast from the other players at his disposal.
I had already been brief by a couple of recruiting analysts that, in previous summer tournaments he was overweight and out of shape, but when I looked at him, I wondered how this young man would fit into a fast paced Kentucky system with quick, rangy teammates.
As the game wore on, I became a believer. Josh's play reminded me of a Nazr Mohammed kind of player but a bit quicker. With his back to the basket Josh has a very quick turnaround first step which enabled him to blow past bigger and even smaller opponents for easy layups. He had exceptional timing on defense which allowed him to block a number of shots from driving opponents that had gotten past their teammates.
He has nice, soft hands for receiving the basketball and was very effective scoring around the basketball and rebounding on both ends. Like Nazr, he also seems to play with a lower intensity on the court than I'd like to see, but make no mistake about it, he is rated at 5-stars on Scout.com for good reason. He can play,
Josh needs to get into real playing shape in order for him to excel at the next level, but he has all the natural gifts to be really special.
Given that UCLA coaches are on hand at every game he plays and that Lorenzo Romar from Washington actually squeezed his way to the center of the end zone to watch Josh play and that Kentucky has not yet made an offer, I think it will be difficult to get him away from the west coast, but Josh Smith is a solid player that will really do well for whoever is lucky enough to land him.
The games on Court 1 of the adidas Tournament were delayed by an hour because one of the players in the opening contest was seriously injured and carried on a stretcher. I didn't see it happen, but the mood when understandably solemn when I arrived at the beginning of the second game. I do not know the name of the injured player but wish he and his family all the best.