Seeing the Light: Josh Smith flourishing at Georgetown

Georgetown is a perennial gateway to the National Basketball Association.

Many of the NBA’s biggest stars have walked through the heralded halls of the university and worn the Hoya name with pride. Legendary head coach John Thompson had the pleasure of coaching many of those stars including Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing and future HOF’s in Allen Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo.

Now retired, his son, Georgetown head coach John Thompson III has taken over the coaching reins.  This season he too has a star. However, this star is different.  This star has fallen and ascended onto the Hoya basketball team looking for guidance.  The star in question is none other than former five-star recruit Josh Smith.

Josh Smith was an absolute beast coming out of high school. He was listed as the No.20 overall recruit in the 2010 class that featured the likes of NBA players Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, and Jared Sullinger. The native of Kent, Washington won state titles and was named the AP State Player of the Year. He averaged 23.2 points, 15 rebounds and four assists and was a McDonald’s All-American.

He was described as an agile and very fluid around the rim. At 6-foot-9, 280 pounds, Smith provided rebounding and elite shot blocking on the defensive end of the court.  The hype for Smith was astronomical. He was eventually  recruited to UCLA  Bruins to start his journey as a collegiate player.

At UCLA, he provided valuable minutes for then coach Ben Howland. Smith averaged 10.9 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 21 minutes per game.  Smith  became a member of the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. As a result, Smith was on his way to successful college career until something that plagued him came back into his life.

This would be a new battle with weight issues. Over the next couple of summers, Smith would increase his body weight to over 300 pounds. The weight issues had an adverse effect on his playing efficiency. As he moved to his junior year, Howland  decreased his minutes exponentially. Smith only saw 13 minutes per game in his third season at UCLA. He  became agitated and left the Bruins after six games. His reasoning was “personal reasons”.

As Smith was sitting at home, he decided to transfer to Georgetown University. He would be playing under Thompson III and get valuable playing time. After waiting due to NCAA transfer rules, Smith hit the court for Georgetown as a 350 pound center. He did not fare well as he struggled going up and down the court. He only played in 13 games and then was ruled academically ineligible.  This decision made Thompson III question his newly acquired player in a CBS Sports report.

“We’re expecting Josh to be a part of our program next season,” Thompson III said on Tuesday. “That hasn’t changed and what Josh needs to do hasn’t changed. It’s all about the conditioning.”

This season, Smith was able to become reinstated by the NCAA. The time away from the game has helped him in numerous ways. He is working well in Thompson III’s system and is finally displaying the ability that has made him a five-star recruit.  Smith is averaging 11.3 points on 64% shooting. He is also grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game and is becoming an anchor in the middle for the Hoyas. He also improved his conditioning and been in relatively good shape. His presence has led to a 16-8 record and a strong start to the season.

It seems as though the struggles are behind Smith. He is positioning himself for a strong senior season and finally living up to his potential. Look for him to continue to lead Hoyas into the NCAA tournament. Also, watch him continue to flourish as a star that has finally seen a new light.

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