Smith is a big-bodied, true center that can play with his back to the basket and score in the low-post. In today's game, that's something of a rarity and one reason Smith was coveted by most of the top programs in the country. He has soft hands, nimble feet and he gets up surprisingly well (and quickly) for a kid his size. He is one very large young man and opponents have a tough time getting around him when he gets on the low-block.
|Smith this summer in Las Vegas.|
Smith should be an effective defender/rebounder right away in college. He's a space-eater inside, but he's not immobile. He has good feet and he's very agile for his size. He's an effective shot-blocker coming off the weakside and he shows good defensive instincts. He's an above-average rebounder. If he gets his hands on a ball, he's usually keeping it. As I said, he has soft hands and they're also quite big. Like most young big men, Smith will likely have to learn how to defend away from the basket. He's used to playing in the paint and things like hedging twenty-five feet from the basket will probably take some time for him to master.
Smith's performance this past spring and summer wasn't quite up to the level of the previous summer and much of that was due to the fact that he was carrying some extra weight. However, he did have some health issues that contributed to that weight gain. Once he addressed those issues, he was playing pretty well by the end of July. While some analysts downgraded Smith due to his performance in the spring and early summer, I think they should remember that he was dominating at times in the summer after his sophomore year. Which is why I'm not real concerned about Smith's long term prospects. Unlike some big kids, where you wonder what they might be if they shed some weight, Smith has already shown the kind of player he's capable of becoming. And in July of 2008, Smith was one of the more impressive prospects in the country. I think he'll be a very effective player at the next level once he gets in a college weight room and into a serious conditioning program.
As most UCLA fans are aware, the Bruins have really only had one low-post scoring option since Coach Howland arrived in Westwood. And that player, Kevin Love, only stayed for one season. One could argue that Ryan Hollins was a pretty decent option by the end of his tenure at UCLA, but he really only came on during the last six weeks of his senior season. In Smith, the Bruins would have a player that could ultimately become a guy opposing teams would have to design their defensive game plans around. As I said, that probably wouldn't be the case immediately, but Smith does have that kind of potential.
In addition to his obvious talent, Smith also appears to fit the mold of the kind of kid UCLA typically recruits. Good kid, solid family and a good teammate. If Smith does indeed ultimately sign with UCLA, the Bruins will be getting a key piece of the puzzle in their attempt to get back to the Final Four and win another national championship.
Video of Smith from July in Las Vegas.