Recruiting Gets Serious for Smith

Las Vegas (Nev.) small forward Ray Smith is one of the top West Coast prospects in 2015 and is being recruited accordingly, with offers from Arizona, UCLA, and others...




One of the top prospects on the West Coast in 2015 is 6-foot-8, 180-pound Las Vegas small forward Ray Smith.

A player who hasn't stopped growing over the last year, Smith has a terrific frame, length, size and athleticism for a player at his position and age. He plays hard, rebounds on both sides of the court, gets to the basket and finishes above the rim.

He's really improved as a shooter over the last several months and is becoming a real weapon to score with his jumper as well as a slasher. A committed defender, Smith has also really improved on that side of the court in the last year.

All things considered, Smith is one of the top longterm prospects on the West Coast in the 2015 class, regardless of position.

Ray Smith's junior season recently came to an end and his father, Bobby Smith, is happy with how he played.

"He did it all this season," said the elder Smith. "He averaged close to 25 or 26 points per game. He brought the ball up the court, he facilitated, he was second on the team in assists, second on the team in rebounds and he just did everything.

"He really showed that he's versatile and he can do it all. He's not a point guard but he took the ball up and made good decisions. He blocked shots, stole the ball and played big in big games."

With the beginning of AAU season quickly approaching in April, Ray Smith will have a couple months to work on his game before what could be a big spring and summer.

"He has to get stronger and play lower," said Bobby. "He's still growing; he's a legitimate 6-foot-8 now after entering the season at 6-foot-6.5 or 6-foot-7. Sometimes he'll be defending a 5-foot-11 guard and he needs to be able to stay low."

"I can't put any weight on the kid because he keeps growing, but we're going to get in the weight room Monday and get ready for AAU season. He's about 180 right now. If anything, his strength is the weakest part of his game, but that's one of those things that takes time."

There's been no shortage of recruiting attention for Smith, who is beginning to hear from more national programs.

"Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, California, Georgetown, Louisville, UNLV and USC are the schools that have been recruiting him the hardest, but there are a lot of schools that are showing attention," said Bobby. "Duke has called a couple times and they want to see him in AAU season. Kansas has called too.

"UNLV, Arizona, UCLA, Arizona State, California and USC are the schools have really pushed the button and made it clear how much they want Ray. "

Bobby Smith broke down what Ray likes about each of the aforementioned schools recruiting Ray the hardest:

UNLV: "I think Dave Rice is just a good guy. He's honest and straightforward. He says how much he wants Ray and wants him to be a Rebel. Last AAU season, they came to every game. They have a really good recruiting class. UNLV is home; my son grew up going to UNLV games and I'm from Las Vegas and am a UNLV fan. You can't ever knock home."

Arizona: "We actually went down to Arizona for an unofficial visit. Arizona is just so professional; their practices are bar none the best I've ever seen. Damon Stoudamire is a great guy and Arizona is one of those schools where the alumni base is ridiculous. They're all about winning there. What I like about Arizona is second place isn't good enough. Every year, they want to contend for a national championship. They really laid out their style of play and how Ray fits into it. Also, honesty is big and Sean (Miller) has been very honest with us."

UCLA: "They're the crème de la crème. Once Ray got the offer from UCLA, we got calls from all kinds of people. We're going to make a trip down there. I haven't honestly assessed how we feel about them but it's UCLA and the name speaks for itself. We're still in that get to know you, building relationship place, but when UCLA offers you, that says something."

California: "I love their style of play. They beat Arizona. Their coaching staff is very friendly and already has a vision for where they can play Ray. It's one of those schools where I know if he goes to Cal, he's gonna be alright. I'm not saying that Cal is the best school for him, but I know that he can't go wrong going to Cal. They've made me feel comfortable that they'll take care of him if he goes there. For me it's a comfort thing."

Arizona State: "The campus is ridiculous. We went down there and saw them beat USC in football and the campus is crazy. The coaching staff is awesome, the facilities are really good and it's just one of those schools that makes you feel good. It's a great school and you can't go wrong in the Pac-12. Also, we like the style of play."

USC: "Coach (Tony) Bland has been out here and has really tried to build a relationship. It's a great school with a top notch education and I know they're not necessarily known for basketball but they're really trying to turn the program around. It's a place where he could come right in and really make a difference right away."

While the Smith family has a good bit of information about many of the schools recruiting Ray, at this point they claim no leader.

"He's wide open," Bobby said. "There's no favorite. There's nowhere he feels he definitely has to go. He likes the schools recruiting him hard and I think the programs like Duke, Kansas and North Carolina are going to check him out. He's kind of a late bloomer, so he's still proving himself. "

Now that Ray's season is over, the family has a little more time to take visits.

"We're supposed to see Cal on March 8," Bobby said. "We've been to Arizona and Arizona State already and of course have seen UNLV. We're going to check out Cal, UCLA, USC and maybe Louisville. We'll probably drive to Los Angeles soon and see UCLA and USC."

As for a timetable, this isn't expected to be a recruitment that lasts too far beyond the summer.

"It won't be as late as Rashad Vaughn and it won't be as early as (Tyler) Dorsey," said Bobby. "I think either the middle point of the AAU season or at the end, but definitely before high school basketball starts again.

"The recruiting process is strenuous and my son has a big decision to make. He wants to make it and be comfortable with it heading into the high school year. He just wants to enjoy basketball as a senior."

Bruin Report Online Top Stories