Arizona will have a very different roster from last season in terms of players receiving regular minutes and one of the new players expected to compete for early minutes is freshman wing Ray Smith. A talented 6-foot-8 wing from Las Vegas, Smith tore his ACL during the July live evaluation period during the summer of 2014, costing him his senior season of high school basketball.
But Smith worked hard during rehab and is ready to enter college basketball completely healthy, according to head coach Sean Miller. In an interview with Bruce Pascoe, Miller explained how hard Smith worked to be in a position to play right away for the Wildcats:
“Ray’s cleared for everything right now. Him and his dad did an incredible job going from last summer when he sustained the injury to being patient and yet super aggressive in the rehabilitation process. And he came to us at a really good place. We were really careful the first couple of months that he was here to make sure his strength level in both legs was good. …
“He loves the game. He’s really talented. When I look at him, he reminds me in some ways of a bouncier Solomon Hill in that he’s 6-8, he has a great skill level shooting, he’s a very creative, unselfish passer and he’s fluid in transition. We have high hopes for him. He can play small forward, and like all the guys who play small forward for us, sometimes we play them at the four.”
Miller goes into detail about other players on the Arizona roster, including other newcomers, in Pascoe’s full interview, but it’s especially good to see that Smith is back to full strength. Regarded as a five-star prospect, Smith was kind of a forgotten player in the Class of 2015 since he hasn’t played much in the past year, but he has a chance to open some eyes with his play early if he’s completely ready to go.
Five-star shooting guard Allonzo Trier has committed to Sean Miller and Arizona on Sunday morning, according to multiple reports.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com first reported the commitment, immediately followed by a tweet from Jeff Goodman of ESPN.
The 6-foot-4 Trier is rated as the No. 12 overall player in the Class of 2015, by Rivals. He is the third five-star recruit to commit to the Wildcats, joining guard Justin Simon and wing Ray Smith. That class will also include Boston College transfer Ryan Anderson, who will use his last season of eligibility during the 2015-2016 season.
MORE: Justin Simon to make impact on both ends of floor | Ray Smith calls ACL tear ‘a blessing’
Trier has been in the spotlight since he was 13-years-old, appearing on the cover of New York Times Magazine. The phenom turned into the top scorer in the Nike EYBL this summer. During the Peach Jam, he averaged 30.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game for his team, Athletes First. Earlier in the summer he was the starting guard for USA Basketball U18 team, which won gold in the FIBA Americas Championships. Miller was one of Billy Donovan’s assistants on that coaching staff.
Since 2011, Miller has landed 10 five-star commits, according to Rivals. This current class could end up being an important one for his program. Wings Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are projected first rounders in early mock drafts. Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley are pegged as second round picks. Point guard T.J. McConnell is also a senior.
Trier will play for powerhouse Findlay Prep (Nevada) this upcoming season.
Two weeks ago, Ray Smith, a top 10 player in the Class of 2015, committed to Arizona. He originally planned to make that announcement on Sunday evening, telling Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star that he believed his team, Dream Vision, would be in the adidas Super 64 final. And what better way to cap off your summer than a live college announcement on ESPNU?
Unfortunately, Smith’s summer came to a sudden end when he torn his ACL. The 6-foot-7 wing has taken everything in stride since the injury, he told Pascoe.
“I go through days. Things happen. People die. People get hurt. You look every week, and there’s a kid who tore his ACL,” he said. “A lot of people say ‘Why me?’ But my question is, why not me? What have I done that’s so special to not get this to happen to myself? I look at it as a blessing. Once I get through it, I’ll have a story of how I dealt with the obstacle of a torn ACL, how I stayed positive and how I can be a role model for people who tore their ACL or might tear their ACL.”
Pretty impressive statements from a 17-year-old, and a positive sign for the Wildcats.
Smith is one of two five-star recruits Sean Miller has in his Class of 2015, along with shooting guard Justin Simon. Smith, who shot up the recruiting boards with his play on the grassroots circuit, could play a big role in the 2015-2016 season for the Wildcats. Forwards Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could both end up being first round picks in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Smith had surgery on his knee last week, according to Pascoe.