"It was something I had to do," said Smith. "I really wanted to show the coaches that I was motivated and could do it, but at the same time I was tired of people telling me I needed to lose weight.
"A couple of years back when I was the size I am now my rankings were high, and I wanted to get back to being that type of player. That motivation helped me."
Checking in at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, Smith burst on the scene at the 2006 ABCD Camp where he was one of the top players in attendance. Smith averaged 12.6 points (seventh-best overall) and grabbed five rebounds per game, as he was tabbed one of the top 10 players overall by Scout.com. He was also selected to play in the ABCD All-Star Game, and finished with 22 points and eight boards to earn MVP honors.
"I did good against Kevin Love up at ABCD," said Smith. "I played pretty good defense on him, and at that camp I think I showed what all I could do. My best game all year was probably the ABCD All-Star game. That's about the best time to have your best game, and I did that."
Smith's strong play carried over to Vegas where he led the Georgia Hurricanes deep into the playoffs. Several colleges were in Las Vegas watching him play, and Smith certainly noticed it.
"I've seen NC State, Louisville, Florida State, Memphis, Oklahoma State, and Charlotte at my games," he said. "I saw Sidney Lowe at three of my games in Vegas. I played really well out in Vegas."
The productive summer has enhanced Smith's reputation among recruiting analysts and college coaches. As he puts it, he was just trying to show everything that he can do on the basketball court.
|"I was tired of people telling me I needed to lose weight."|
"He's lost over 50 pounds and man he looks good," Scout.com Recruiting Analyst Dave Telep said of Smith while watching him in Las Vegas. "He's gone from high-major recruit because of his size and reputation to a guy the high-majors want to play an integral part on their team. While his waistline shrunk his game expanded and now he's a threat to face or post up with equal success."
"Tracy Smith had one of the most productive summers of any big in the South," Telep added. "It began at Reebok and then in Vegas with the Georgia Hurricanes he was outstanding. The single biggest reason for the spike in his play was that he committed himself to conditioning, shed the weight and his game expanded exponentially. It's a real credit to his commitment to the game. He'll rank in our Top 100 the next time around."
"Colleges are recruiting me as a combo forward," said Smith. "This summer I showed all of my game, and I can play both spots in college.
"I played good with the ball and without it, and I showed my perimeter game. I showed that I could beat guys off the dribble and get to the basket, and I was hitting my jumper. I can tell my recruiting has picked up after these tournaments."
Smith is hearing from NC State, Oklahoma State, Charlotte, Memphis, Florida State, and Louisville. NC State, Charlotte, and Oklahoma State have extended offers and Smith believes Louisville is close to offering as well. He recently visited Charlotte but admits that another high-major program is recruiting him the hardest.
"I just came off an unofficial visit to Charlotte," he said. "It was pretty good, I liked it.
"I'd say Oklahoma State is probably recruiting me the hardest. They've offered me a scholarship and say I could really help them. They are saying that I can be a Joey Graham-type player for them. They've been text messaging me a lot and have been talking with my mom."
|"I'd be happy to play for a coach like him."|
Another program firmly in the mix is the NC State Wolfpack. Smith, who averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds as a junior at Durham (NC) Mt. Zion Academy, hails originally from Michigan but is really comfortable with the state of North Carolina. New Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe is in heavy pursuit.
"Sidney Lowe likes me a lot," said Smith. "Actually I just heard from him today. He's a nice person, and he's cool to talk to. I'd be happy to play for a coach like him.
"I've been in North Carolina for a pretty long time, so I know my way around. NC State is a good school, and it's in the ACC. I like that because I would want to play against that type of competition. I just want to go see how the campus is and meet the coaching staff. I also want to meet the players and see what they are like. Actually I'm taking an unofficial visit to NC State next weekend."
Smith, who is in no hurry to make a decision, is focusing on his academics as he has been preparing for the upcoming SAT test. He plans on taking a couple of visits prior to verbally committing and states that currently there is no leader.
"I'm going to take a couple of more visits," he said. "Right now I'm trying to study for this test so I can get the score I need and once I get that back I'll be ready to make my decision. I'm taking that in September.
"I don't really have a leader. I like all the schools that are recruiting me, and I'm just going to wait and see which I like the best. I'm looking at how I get along with the coaches, and I want to see how much [playing] time I can get."