At the end of the 2016-2017 season, Zach Smith announced he was entering the NBA Draft. At the time, this announcement came as a bit of a surprise considering that Smith didn’t seem to be on any media member’s radar. After going through a few workouts and getting a gauge of it all, Smith decided to come back to Texas Tech for his senior year and helped the Red Raiders reach the Elite 8 for the first time in school history.
Smith’s decision to enter and eventually withdraw from the NBA draft was very advantageous for him for a multitude of reasons. This gave Smith the opportunity to present himself to NBA scouts, Smith was able to have scouts look at his tape, and get a feel for the type of player he is. This also put him on scout’s radar throughout this season.
Now Smith didn’t exactly have the senior season he might’ve hoped. Smith had the lowest point, rebound and assist averages of his career as he was reduced to a smaller role offensively with the addition of freshmen Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver and the emergence of fellow senior Keenan Evans. Smith also injured his foot in the first game of the conference season against Baylor and had to miss 14 games following the K-State game.
Despite this injury plagued year, Zach Smith’s proved his value. After the K-State game, Tech lost three of the following four games due to the opposing team being able to dump it in to their big man and the offense not being able to have an inside offensive presence. Smith’s team defense is what was missed the most as teams were able to drive inside at will. Once Smith returned, he revitalized the post defense and made it incredibly difficult for teams with height and size to get going.
Zach Smith’s draft prospects are understandably low, however what sets him apart from many players in his position is that NBA teams are already familiar with Zach Smith. Some of them had already seen his tape, and watched him live. His injury is the main reason his numbers are low and scouts will be able to attest to that.
Smith’s game against Purdue in the Sweet 16 will be the main tape his agent is going to want scouts to see. Smith’s offense finally came back, going 7-10 from the field for 14 points, while restricting 7’3” Matt Haarms to four points and three rebounds.
That game alone proved Zach Smith was back to his non-injured self and if anyone else needed more proof, Smith showed up and showed out at the dunk contest in San Antonio.
Smith is likely looking at a summer league invite where he’ll need to prove he has what it takes to be invited to training camp and possibly an NBA team. With that being said, with Smith already putting himself out there a year ago, don’t be surprised to hear an intelligent NBA franchise wants to have the dunk and defense disciple.