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March 5, 2011

Senior review: Tracy Smith

Sunday will mark the last home game for a pair of Wolfpack seniors. Forward Tracy Smith and guard Javier Gonzalez were part of Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe's first full recruiting class at NC State. They arrived with five-star forward J.J. Hickson, who left for the NBA after one season, and in-state forward Johnny Thomas, who transferred after his redshirt sophomore season to Marshall. Here is a look back at the senior class by reflecting on Smith.

Tracy Smith

Recruitment

Smith was always considered a highly-touted recruit coming out of Mt. Zion Christian Academy in Durham, N.C. The Detroit-native had lost a considerable amount of weight to slim down to a mobile 6-foot-7 power forward that was generally ranked among the top 50 recruits in the country.

Towards the end of the summer in 2006 it became clear that Smith not only liked NC State, but the feeling was mutual. The Pack established themselves as a clear leader that fall, and it was little surprise when he announced during a press conference Nov. 13 that he was joining the Wolfpack.

Freshman year

As a rookie Smith did not receive much playing time. However, when he was on the court - his playing time increased as the season wore on - he certainly made the most out of it. Smith logged double-digit minutes seven times, including five times in the last six games, and recorded at least eight points in all but two of those instances.

The native of Detroit, Michigan did not play much at all during the first 12 games of the year, appearing in just five contests and recording a grand total of two points and five rebounds. He received his first significant game action against Clemson in mid-January, logging 20 minutes of action and recording 13 points and a season-best six rebounds. Smith was 6-of-11 from the field in the 70-54 loss.

The 6-8 forward returned to his light workload until the second game of the year against North Carolina on Feb. 20 in the RBC Center. Smith was on the court for 13 minutes and made three of his four shots from the floor, finishing with eight points and two boards. After playing just four minutes against Virginia in the ensuing contest, Smith established himself as a member of the regular rotation.

Smith recorded 19 minutes against Florida State and netted 11 points, to go along with four rebounds; followed by the first start of his college career against Duke. Smith was in for 22 minutes versus the Blue Devils and finished with a season-high 14 points, in addition to four rebounds. He also earned a start in the regular-season finale against Wake Forest, totaling 17 minutes, five points, two rebounds and a block. Smith played ten minutes in the opening-round loss of the ACC Tournament, but was held scoreless and tallied a pair of rebounds.

The big man finished his rookie campaign with 20 appearances and the pair of late-season starts for the 15-16 (4-12 ACC) Wolfpack. He averaged 8.6 minutes, 3.3 points and 1.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 52.4 percent from the floor. In regular-season contests against ACC foes, Smith tallied 4.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.

Sophomore year

Smith began the following campaign as a reserve again, but this time he had carved himself out a spot in the rotation. Despite coming off the bench in each of the season's first 17 tilts, Smith averaged 8.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in just 13.6 minutes per game.

The forward enjoyed a monster game against Towson, recording a career-high 31 points and seven rebounds in 23 minutes of action off of the bench. That performance was the first time he led the team in scoring for a game and stands as a school record for the most points scored by a reserve. At the time, it ranked as the second-best reserve performance in ACC annals and it also featured Smith making all 11 of his attempts from the charity stripe. The forward also torched Boston College for 17 points and eight rebounds off of the bench.

Following his standout effort against the Eagles, Smith was elevated to the starting lineup and he would hold a spot in the starting five for the rest of the way, excluding a game against North Carolina Central when he was limited to five minutes off of the bench due to a knee injury he dealt with for much of the campaign. In his 12 starts, Smith averaged 12.2 points and continued to get stronger as the season developed.

Smith started a streak of nine-consecutive games with double-digit points to close the regular-season against Virginia Tech, a game in which he hit all five of his shots from the field and totaled 13 points. In the ensuing contest, he recorded his first career double-double against Wake Forest. The big man tallied 12 points and 12 boards against the Deacons, including 10 offensive rebounds, which is tied for the second-highest total in program history. Only three players in school history have pulled down double-digit rebounds off of the offensive glass and Smith was the first to do so since 1984.

The Detroit native followed with a double-double against Georgia Tech in the next contest. His 18 points and 10 rebounds were both team-highs in the 86-65 victory. Smith also enjoyed a 19 point and nine rebound effort against Maryland on March 1. Smith averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds over the final nine regular-season tilts.

On the season, Smith increased his scoring average by 6.7 points per game, the third-best improvement in the entire conference. The sophomore appeared in 30 games for the 16-14 (6-10 ACC) Pack, starting 12 times. He averaged 18.2 minutes, 10 points, and 4.5 rebounds during the regular-season while shooting 54 percent from the field.

Junior year

Smith was an emerging starter during his sophomore campaign, but he was the team's unquestioned star during the 2009-10 campaign. Smith started all but one contest, due to a suspension for comments made about officiating, and began the season on a tear that never relented.

The big man opened the season with at least 11 points in each of the first ten tilts. His early-season efforts included five double-doubles and Smith was also named the MVP at the Glen Wilkes Classic, leading the Pack to the team championship in the season-opening tournament. In the four contests, the forward averaged 15.3 points and 11 rebounds per contest while scoring on a putback with just 1.6 seconds remaining to give NC State a 60-58 edge over Auburn in the final game of the tournament.

The 6-8 junior recorded four 20-point efforts over a five-game span early in the season, as well. The lone game during that run in which he didn't eclipse 20 points was when he recorded 19 points, 11 rebounds, three assists a block and a steal against Marquette in a 77-73 win.

The workhorse played all 40 minutes in a heart-wrenching, at-the-buzzer loss to Florida in early January, finishing with 21 points and nine boards. Smith would average 32.1 minutes per game for the season, a mark that ranked ninth in the ACC.

Smith may have enjoyed the finest game of his career on Jan. 20, as he celebrated his 22nd birthday with an 88-74 victory over No. 7 Duke at the RBC Center. The big man scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting and also hauled in five rebounds in the team's first win over their rivals from Durham since the 2007 ACC Tournament.

The junior forward was also impressive in the ACC tournament, earning a second-team nod to the conference's All-Tournament squad. Over three games, he averaged 15.7 points, helping the Pack earn close wins over Clemson (59-57) and Florida State (58-52) before falling to Georgia Tech, 57-54.

Smith would end the campaign as an All-ACC second-team selection, the highest honor bestowed on a Wolfpack player since Julius Hodge earned the same honor in 2005. His 16.5 points per game average was also the program's best since Hodge recorded a 17.0 average during the 2004-05 season. The Pack's leading scorer and rebounder (7.3 per game) finished seventh in the conference for scoring and ninth for rebounding while leading all ACC players in field goal percentage (.524). The forward finished with at least 10 points in 32 contest, including 18 of the last 19 games, and led the squad in points 22 times. He enjoyed 11 games with at least 20 points and finished as the team's leading rebounder 21 times.

Senior season

After entering his name in the NBA Draft to receive feedback from the professionals, Smith returned for his senior season with high hopes. The season would not get off to the start he imagined, though. After scoring 10 points and hauling in eight rebounds in the season-opening win over Tennessee Tech, the forward could only log six minutes of action against East Carolina in the second game before going down with a knee injury, finishing with four points and a rebound.

The Detroit native had to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery on Nov. 19 and missed the next ten games. After missing six weeks of action, Smith came off of the bench on Jan. 1 against San Diego and netted a game-high 16 points in 25 minutes of action. He reclaimed his role in the starting lineup and has started every game since, recording double-digit points in all but one contest.

Smith matched his career-best point total against ACC competition in his second start back, totaling 23 points, in addition to 11 rebounds, against Wake Forest.

The senior also recorded 19 points and nine boards against Duke on Jan. 19 and, with one game left to be played in the regular season, ranks tenth in the ACC for conference-only scoring with 15.2 points per game. Smith has missed too many games to be ranked in the overall statistics. Over the last six games, he has averaged 15.5 points 5.8 rebounds per contest.

On the year, Smith is averaging 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game while appearing in 19 games, starting 18, for the 15-14 (5-10 ACC) Pack. The forward is shooting 50.2 percent from the field and a career-high 70.9 percent from the charity stripe.

Miscellaneous

Smith became the 25th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds.



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