And he had a big game. Just not a complete one.
Smith was ejected near the end of the third quarter after the refs gave the 6-7 forward a technical when he bumped Benedictine's Bombale Osby after an alley-oop.
"Man that just killed me," said Smith after the game. "I was having a good game and then they just got me for taunting I guess. We won the game, though."
Yes, they did. In what may have been the most lopsided contest in the Slamfest's three-year history. The quicker and more talented St. Benedict's athletes handled the Benedictine Cadets pretty easily in the Saturday nightcap, winning by a score of 80-58.
Smith scored 29 points and hauled in seven rebounds in only 23 minutes of action. He also had three steals and dished out three assists. Most of his buckets came off of the usual stuff -- deep three pointers, dunks and offensive rebound/stick-backs.
On the evening, Smith connected on 5 for 11 from the arc. His range has steadily improved as has his consistency from deep.
"It feels so good when they go in," said Smith, of his prowess behind the arc. "I really work on my shooting and it has paid off."
Highlights and Observations
Most folks made the trip to the Super Saturday Slamfest in Ashland to see the J.R. Smith show, especially considering the impression he left in Virginia with his showing a month ago in Chesapeake. During pre-game warmups, all eyes in the crowd were focused on Smith as he showcased his superior athletic and shooting ability with an effortless tomahawk, a 360 dunk, deep three pointers and the dunk that he missed in warmups might have brought the house down.
Smith got the ball and shaded towards the baseline. As he soared in -- he started a 360 rotation and quickly tried to whip the ball around his waist to switch hands while in mid air. Smith lost his grip on the leather and the ball was fumbled. Needless to say, if he had completed that dunk -- the crowd would have just went insane. That was the type of dunk that would win a dunk competition with ease.
During the game, Smith had several moments worth mentioning. With a lot of Carolina fans in the house, Smith seemed to be pumped up for the game and eager to please the fans who packed Crenshaw Gymnasium. He came out of the locker room with a lot of adrenaline.
In the first half -- Smith soared in and tried to dunk it right over Benedictine's best player, Bombale Osby. But Osby used his strength and won the joust at the rim by blocking Smith's dunk attempt. The block really looked to bother Smith for a few minutes based on his facial expressions and body language. He eventually recovered.
Smith shot a lot of three pointers in the first half, some of them from as far out as 30 feet.
Folks, when you read about Smith extending his range -- you have no idea. This isn't a kid who lets them fly from 23 feet. He shoots them from anywhere inside of half court. His three pointers are launched from the same spots that Duke's J.J. Redick. Some of them are further out. And his coach gives him the green light. Why? Because he can make them.
Smith picked up his first technical on a rebound/dunk attempt where he hung on the rim to avoid landing on a teammate after the ball flung upwards. At the half -- Smith had 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
In the second half, Smith picked up where he left off, scoring on a couple of transition dunks. He nailed another three pointer from 26 feet and finished off an alley-oop in what ended up being his last play of the night.
After the dunk, Smith and Osby got tangled up, as Smith bumped chests with the 6-5 Cadet senior. The refs whistled Smith for taunting and he took a seat beside his coach, Danny Hurley on the bench.
Many of the spectators quickly headed towards the exits when Smith was ejected.
Carolina fans have eagerly been awaiting word of whether or not the high-flying future Tar Heel has qualified to play at UNC.
According to Smith, not yet.
"I just took the test again. I should get it back sometime soon. I can take it a lot so I'm going to keep doing it."
And what are the chances he qualifies?
"99.9%" according to head coach Danny Hurley.