Draftables Spotlight – Nick Smith; what we saw on Saturday
After Tuesday’s 26-point game against Georgia, the Arkansas freshman Nick Smith was the focus of this week’s Draftables Spotlight on the College Basketball Recruiting Weekly show.
Smith finished his high school career as the top prospect in the 2022 national class but began his Arkansas career with a series of well-documented knee injuries before shutting it down in mid-December.
He returned to the court a couple of weeks ago and after a few games to get used to, he is now playing like the player we expected from high school.
However, it’s important to remember that even though it’s the end of February, it’s Smith’s very first college basketball games where he’s even slightly healthy.
Saturday was his first real road test and although he scored 24 points, it took 23 shots to get there. Here are some of the things that stood out during the game.
- Smith seemed to be in a hurry throughout the game. He never really slowed down and played with his foot on the gas from start to finish. Given the context – his first road game in such an atmosphere against his former EYBL teammate, who is now widely regarded as the best freshman in the country (Brandon Miller) is more than understandable. However, Smith will be at his best when he slows down, changes speed and picks his spots.
- He was visibly frustrated throughout the game, both from himself when he missed, and from everything else. Again, this speaks to how much Smith was invested in the game and the fact that he’s really never played a game of this magnitude before.
- At times, the physical force inside the alley was too strong for him. While slowing down will be an important next step for Smith, he is also building up his body so he can play through contact without being knocked down. This will affect his ability not only to finish the game at the basket, but also to perform pull-ups and mid-range shots with better balance, as well as to keep lines without dribbling.
Although this performance was not as efficient as the Alabama game in terms of scoring, he still played the full 40 minutes without committing a single loss. His sheer talent – scoring intuition, multi-level shooting (triples, pull-ups, floats) and ability to play with and without the ball – were evident, as was his overall progress.
In short, this was what we expected to see at the start of the season, a very talented combo guard who just needed to go through the typical transition to an unprecedented level of competition and intensity. While Smith should now make that transition at the end of the season, there’s still plenty of reason for optimism, both among Arkansas fans and those who follow his NBA promotions.
College Basketball Weekly This Week
Sabbath Smith Highlights
Yesterday Nick Smith had 24 points on 23 shots.
At times he looked hurried and upset. Slightly lost his place in the alley.
Although the obvious talent was obvious.
Basically, this is what we would have seen in November if he had been healthy. https://t.co/QzknAwtwRO pic.twitter.com/VrjfRAST9x
— Adam Finkelstein (@AdamFinkelstein) February 26, 2023