In front of a crowd of Wolfpack faithful that included NC State coach Sidney Lowe, the senior Wolfpack commit from Mount Zion showed that he can put points on the board.
"It felt good," Smith said. "I'm just getting myself ready, showing the NC State crowd what I can do. I'm looking forward to coming here and playing."
Mount Zion lost to American Christian by a 81-70 score in the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational, but Smith still managed to leave an impression on the Pack fans that came out to get a look at the senior forward. Smith led the Warriors with 26 points and five rebounds, looking determined on the offensive end – attacking the basket, drawing fouls and grabbing boards.
"That's the style I play," Smith said. "I always attack. I'm aggressive, I love going to the hole and shooting free-throws."
But Smith struggled from the line, shooting just 10-of-17, and had to sit out for most of the fourth quarter due to cramps. At time he also appeared lackadaisical on defense, as American's Micheal Glover, an undersized power forward headed to Seton Hall, torched the Warriors for 28 points on 13-of-16 shooting.
Of course after further review it's easy to see why Smith and Mt. Zion looked fatigued. The Warriors are also participating in the High Point Enterprise Classic and faced Baltimore (MD) Mt. Carmel at 3:30 at High Point University. After defeating Mt. Carmel 64-58, with Smith's 20 points and six boards leading the way, Mt. Zion made the drive from High Point to Raleigh where a fresh American Christian team was waiting.
Lowe, who sat on press row wearing a NC State-red sweater vest, was one of several coaches in attendance. Carolina head coach Roy Williams and Duke assistant coach Chris Collins also took in the action, along with representatives from schools like Florida, Kentucky and Wake Forest.
Smith, who got a phone call from Lowe earlier in the day, said he noticed his soon-to-be coach watching from the sidelines.
"He called me early today and told me he was come to see me play today," Smith said.
American used a swarming defense in the first quarter to create easy transition baskets. The Warriors had trouble just getting the ball up the court at times during the quarter, falling behind 19-10. Mount Zion managed a better performance in the second quarter, cutting down on turnovers and attacking the basket to pull within five points at the half, 33-28.
"Our guards, they turned the ball over," Smith said. "I think if we had kept control of the ball, we would have been in the game, we probably could have pulled it out."
The Eagles put away Mt. Zion in the third quarter with a dominating 19-5 run fueled once again by a tenacious full-court press. Smith, who scored 13 points in each half, remained a workhorse in the middle but tired noticeably as the game wore on. He started cramping up early in the fourth quarter, came out of the game and tried to come back in but was unable to go more than another two minutes before sitting out for good.
"I was cramping like the end of the third, the whole fourth quarter," Smith said. "I tried to play through it, subbing in and out, but I couldn't."
Mt. Zion was playing in just a showcase game in the Glaxo, but take the court again tonight in the High Point Enterprise Classic at 6:30 p.m. in High Point.