We all know the draft is up next for Dennis Smith, Jr., but what about his poor performance during the ACC Tournament? Was it a tell sign of what’s to come or just the circumstance of a team giving up knowing their coach was fired midseason?
The answers to these questions could easily be formatted for both sides. NCSU did the team a disservice when they announced midseason that Mark Gottfried would not be returning. The unimaginable blow to the team and their confidence resulted in a failure of a season and almost a waste of great talent.
Its no secret that Dennis Smith, Jr. is a star. Hailing from Fayetteville, NC, Smith has been a household name since HS. He’s made countless ESPN list and rated one of the best guards in NC. Upon his declaration for NSCU, one would think this would be Gottfried’s time to shine and show what he could do with and for top recruits, but instead it resulted in… is it fair to say embarrassment?
One would think that during the ACC tournament, and Gottfried’s last big stage moment, the team and Smith would go full frontal and show NCSU the mistake they made, sadly they only proved the school right. Smith finished with just 7 points and 8 rebounds in 36 minutes. Smith showed lack of leadership and aggression, seemingly to always be one step behind Clemson defenders. Coach Brownell of Clemson spoke about shutting down the ACC Freshman of the Year,
I thought we kept him out of transition a good bit. He’s dynamic in the open floor. Whether it was just making shots or good shots around the rim so we didn’t have long misses that led to run-outs and open-court play for him, I just think he’s a terrific player. When he gets a full head of steam, you can’t guard him with one player. I think keeping him in the halfcourt, executing offensively with shot selection, not to take bad shots, have live-ball turnovers, kept that situation the way we wanted it.
But how did Coach Gottfried feel about his star player defeated on the court,
All the time with him, I’m really proud of him. I think he’s handled a tough situation as well as you can handle. I think they all have, no question about it. Tons of expectations put on Dennis to be savior of the program. He’s got great things that are going to happen for him in his life. He’s going to learn this year. It’s going to be a great learning opportunity for him. He’s just going to stay positive. He’ll get better and better and better, and life will move on for him.
And Coach Gottfried was right, Smith was looked at as the savior for NCSU with barely any consistent help and apparently a university that cares more about keeping up with Duke and UNC than maintaining team togetherness during the season.
So, what’s next for Dennis Smith, Jr.? The draft of course. He’s expected to make his announcement soon, but with all the nonsense going on around him and lack of leadership at times, you have to wonder what teams think of him now.
What do you think? Is Smith still a top 5 lottery pick?