Arizona announced on Thursday afternoon that redshirt freshman forward Ray Smith will miss his second consecutive year after re-injuring the ACL in his right knee. He suffered other ligament and meniscal damage as well, according to the athletic department.
Smith, the 19-year-old, followed by announcing his retirement from basketball through a lengthy post on Twitter (written in the Arizona colors).
He re-aggravated the injured knee on Tuesday night during Arizona’s exhibition win over the College of Idaho.
“About a year ago I began my statement regarding Ray Smith’s season-ending injury by saying, ‘Ray Smith is one of the most talented young players that has ever entered our program,'” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said in a statement. “Unfortunately, I begin this year’s statement by reiterating the special talent that Ray has on the basketball court and once again addressing a season-ending knee injury.
Smith has suffered three ACL tears in the past three years. The first occurred in 2014, tearing the ACL in his left knee following a strong performance during the July live evaluation period. The first tear to the ACL in his right knee happened during the preseason, which caused him to be sidelined for his first collegiate season.
This is a devastating blow for one of the favorites in the Pac-12, not just from a competitive standpoint — Smith was expected to provide an impact right away — but from an emotional one. For those in the locker room, it can’t be easy to see a teammate work hard to get back to the floor, only to have the same injury end a career before it began.
This news is incredibly saddening for a player of Smith’s caliber. He was rated as the No. 17 overall player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals. His lengthy, athleticism and versatility would have flourished in Miller’s system and would have put him on the radar of all 30 NBA franchises.
Arizona opens the season against the Spartans on Nov. 11 in the Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu.