Departing senior D.J. Byrd spoke to the crowd during the postgame ceremony, thanking the fans for four years of support. It was Byrd who first reached out to Smotherman—then a high-school sophomore—and explained what made Purdue such a special place to him.
Smotherman's mentor was departing the program, but leaving an opportunity open.
"Seeing him go, it was kind of hard," said Smotherman. "Knowing I'm going to step into his shoes next year, I want to help Purdue. I'm ready."
The season hasn't been kind for the Boilermakers, who currently own a 15-16 overall record. Yet, the team's potential has been evident—never more so than in recent weeks. Purdue's future looks bright when freshmen like A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis continue to produce in Big Ten play.
Smotherman has been following along with each of the Boilermakers' games, and feels confident about the program's future.
"They've been picking it up at the end, playing hard like Purdue; and that's what they've got to keep doing," said Smotherman. "They've got to carry it into next year when [members of the 2013 class] get there."
So how bright is the Boilermakers' future, then? As a close observer, Smotherman has an honest answer to offer.
"It's going to be crazy," he said. "It's going to be a stellar year. The guys they have now are going to be dangerous. Purdue's going to be back. We're going to turn some heads."
A Purdue pledge since his sophomore year, Smotherman has maintained close relationships with the coaching staff.
Throughout his high-school career, but even more so during his senior season, Smotherman has stayed in close contact with Purdue's Matt Painter, speaking about everything—both life and basketball. The relationship has him feeling prepared to arrive on campus, while Painter knows what to expect from his future forward.
"It's really important," Smotherman said of their relationship. "He's letting me know what I need to work on now so that I'm ready for Purdue in the summer. Right now, I'm getting ready to play in the Big Ten."
Smotherman was sold on Purdue ever since it began recruiting him. The feeling he has for the program has never changed.
"It's felt like family since day one—even before they offered me," he said. "Nothing has changed. I feel like part of the family and that they want me here."