Judging by the early reviews from fellow teammates and Nebraska head coach Tim Miles, Smith’s role could be bigger than first projected with his ability to get to the basket.
“I have seen him get by everybody, Benny [Parker] included, I don’t know what that says about our defense,” said a smiling Miles. “I think Tarin is really good offensively, I really like his game. He delivers the ball.
“How quickly a freshman picks up our defensive system and all the diatribe we are telling him all the time will take time.”
Smith, who was coached by legendary St. Anthony high school head coach Bobby Hurley, averaged 15 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per contest last season as a senior. He helped the Friars win 25 games.
“He’s a nice guard and knows how to handle the rock,” said junior wing Terran Petteway, who spent a lot of the summer working out with Smith. “He knows how to handle the offense...
"He likes to get to the basket – I like it." - Terran Petteway
Last season Nebraska used a combination of Tai Webster, Benny Parker, and Terran Petteay to set up the offense late in the year. Smith gives Miles the ability to use Webster in more of a combo-guard role and give the rotation a scoring punch in certain situations – something Parker at times struggles to provide.
“Honestly I want to help the team anyway I can and learn on the fly,” said Smith. “I want to be a passer, getting guys like Terran, Shavon [Shields], and Walt [Pitchford] open. I want to do whatever it takes to win.
“I think I can do a couple different things on the floor. I can knockdown shots and get in the paint to create. I think I’m a little bit different point guard than people have seen the last few years. I just really want to compliment the guys already here.”
Smith says the experience this summer has humbled him as a person, but in addition given him confidence going forward.
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. I need to keep pushing myself and keep pushing these guys on this team,” said Smith. “I definitely feel like I grew this summer. Coach [Tim] Wilson in the weight room has helped me a lot. I have gotten a lot stronger. I’m just learning the nuisances of college basketball.
“Playing in the Big Ten is no joke. It’s the best conference in the country in my opinion…a couple times I have run into brick walls.”
Smith, who's described as a high IQ basketball player, has also impressed his fellow point guards.
"Tarin is excellent point guard; he could definitely fit in the rotation and help us a lot," said Parker. "I can’t wait to get on the floor with him."
The true freshman was a three-star prospect out of high school and picked Nebraska over schools like Ole Miss, Providence and Duquesne. His 4.0 GPA in the classroom solidified him as valedictorian for St. Anthony’s last year.