View Full Version : Tommy Smith's stock is Rising...

Ummmmm Ok
06-03-2003, 10:39 AM

Workouts lift Smith's draft status
Ex-ASU forward hopes to move into 1st round

Norm Frauenheim
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 3, 2003 12:00 AM

If the NBA draft is little more than a careful wager on potential, former Arizona State forward Tommy Smith is beginning to look like a pretty good bet.

Potential, after all, has defined Smith since the day ASU coach Rob Evans spotted him at North High School.

But through four years at ASU, it emerged in fits and starts, or not at all. From game to game, it was hard to tell whether Smith was a lottery pick or just posing as one.

During individual workouts for various NBA teams and at one camp, however, all that promise has blossomed in such abundance that Smith is poised to climb the charts in the days before Cleveland makes LeBron James the No. 1 pick on June 26.

"I can't envision him not being drafted," said David Griffin, a Suns scout and the club's assistant director for player personnel. "He figures to be a second-round pick. But he could slip into the bottom of the first round."

Smith says the first round is his goal. His chances might hinge on how he does today through Saturday at a camp in Chicago.

"That's important, real important," said Smith, who hopes to become the seventh Sun Devils player to be picked in the first round.

A camp in April in Portsmouth, Va., put him on the draft's radar screen in the first place. Scouts saw a long, lanky frame with a quick first step and explosive leaping ability. They saw the potential for another Tayshaun Prince, a 6-foot-9 forward from Kentucky who went to Detroit last year at No. 23. Prince played little in the regular season but became a key Pistons reserve in the playoffs.

"I could be a Tayshaun Prince," Smith said. "Just be there when they need you to show up."

Smith has had invitations for individual workouts from about 15 teams, said Smith's agent, Todd Ely, whose clients include New Jersey Nets forward Richard Jefferson, a former Arizona star, and Memphis forward Mike Batiste, who played at ASU. Smith worked out for the Suns on May 25.

"There's a lot of excitement about him," said Ely, who compares Smith to Larry Nance.

In 1981, Nance, then a little-known 6-10 forward from Clemson, went to the Suns at No. 20.

Suns scout Al Bianchi took notice of Smith's potential a couple of years ago.

"I've always thought that he had a chance," said Bianchi, who was Julius Erving's original pro coach with the Virginia Squires of the ABA. "Maybe not a first-round pick, but he'll be in the second round for what he did in Portsmouth. Mark it down.

"The second round is very good for him. He's the kind of kid that coaches like to talk about. They talk about coaches working with young players. Boy, they've got a whole lot to work with. Physically, he's really talented."

Bianchi foresees Smith as the prototypical small forward. At Portsmouth, he was measured at 6-9, an inch shorter than his listed height at ASU. But nobody's quibbling. At Portsmouth, Smith's size and quick, slashing moves were an eye-opener and a source of frustration for Bianchi, who had hoped to sneak Smith into the Suns camp as a free agent. But he's no longer a secret.

Unless his stock soars in Chicago, it's not likely that the Suns would take him at No. 17, their only pick in the draft. His inconsistency at ASU is a nagging question that has come up regularly in interviews that are part of the individual workouts.

"They know me as a person," said Smith, who averaged 11.2 points and 6.4 rebounds as a senior. "It's the NBA. They scout it to perfection. They know what they want. They know everything."

Those same scouts also are learning that Smith's inconsistency at ASU often was a symptom of his relative inexperience. He didn't start playing until high school.

Evans often said that he had wanted to redshirt Smith but couldn't because he needed him to play right away.

With an extra college season, some people think that Smith could have been a lottery pick next year. But Smith doesn't speculate about the what-ifs.

"I'm going to learn a whole lot more about basketball, that's for sure," said the forward, who will graduate this summer with a major in sociology. "But I'm happy with the way things have turned out. I learned a lot from coach Evans, especially at the defensive end."

Offensively, turnovers often plagued Smith. But Bianchi said that's not a surprise.

"ASU plays a passing game, and that's not easy to do," he said. "You've got be very unselfish. You've got to be able to recognize situations and opportunities. Some kids have a tough time with that. I think it's especially tough for inexperienced kids, and that's Tommy."

At Portsmouth and in individual workouts, Smith benefited from the lack of a system. There won't be one in Chicago, either.

"It's just wide open, and that's a chance for Tommy to really show what he can do," Bianchi said. "There are lots of signs that Tommy's best game is ahead of him. In my experience, there are times when that also doesn't happen with a young player. But in Portsmouth, you've got to stand out. That's what he did. Now, he's got a chance to do it again."

06-03-2003, 11:29 AM
Tommy Smith, currently at #50.....

Tommy Smith
Birthdate: 12/4/80
NBA Position: SF/PF
College: Arizona State
Class: Senior
Ht: 6-10
Wt: 215
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
High School: North
Team Site Profile
2002 Stats

Strengths: Elite level athlete. Very long and versatile; capable of playing either forward position. Nice shot blocker, especially coming to help from the weak side. Runs the floor well and can finish on the break. At his best in a fluid open-court environment or on an isolation set. Can face up a defender and get to the basket off the dribble or shoot the mid-range jumper with relative success. Sees the court well and can make the not-so-obvious pass. Above average ball skills for being 6-10. Quick release and nice form on his jumpshot. Long strider with effortless elevation. Quick first step. Strong finisher. Good coordination.

Weaknesses: Has struggled to find a niche at the college level. Should be a better defensive rebounder. Needs to add a little weight. Lacks a go-to move in the post and is a below average threat on the block. Foul prone. Often makes careless decisions with the basketball. Inconsistent shot outside of about 12-14 feet. Questionable range; hesitant to take shots from outside of 16-18 feet. Has difficulty getting into the flow of games or adapting to different schemes. Often looks unsure or hesitant on the court. Has never put up the numbers you’d expect from a player with his level of skill and athleticism.

-Chris Karpman DevilsDigest.com

06-03-2003, 10:42 PM
Lacks a go-to move in the post and is a below average threat on the block. Foul prone.

kinda sounds like Raef