Roscoe Smith, 6-foot-8 power forward, UNLV
2013-14 stats: 11.1 points, 10.9 rebounds, 53.1 FG%, 0.7 blocks, 0.3 steals
One of a handful of players in college basketball to average a double-double, Smith’s lone season on the court in Las Vegas was a productive one. The transfer made an immediate impact for the Runnin’ Rebels and on a talented, underachieving squad, focused his game almost completely on rebounding. He did manage to gain recognition for his transformed game and reemergence on the scene, but with other holes in his game still needing to be addressed and the chance to be UNLV’s featured option as a senior, it was a bit of a surprise that he passed up on his final year of college eligibility.
Career highlights: The Baltimore native began his career at Connecticut, where he was a freshman starter on the 2011 national-championship team, averaging 6.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots per game. His playing time decreased as a sophomore and after posting averages of 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds, he opted to transfer to UNLV, partly because of impending NCAA sanctions the Huskies faced. After sitting out a year due to transfer rules, Smith averaged 11.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 53.1 percent from the field, leading the Mountain West in rebounding, finishing sixth nationally in that category and games of 22, 21 and 19 rebounds displaying his talent for crashing the boards.
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Strengths: A long, bouncy athlete, Smith’s rebounding prowess is less due to great strength or freakish explosiveness than his quickness, length, uncanny anticipation and dogged pursuit of errant shots. A good finisher in traffic and in transition, he’s also capable of facing up big men and driving by them or outrunning them on fast breaks. An active defender, Smith can guard on both the interior and perimeter, and has the ability to make plays on that end of the floor.
Weaknesses: Ironically, Smith was a top recruit out of high school as a projected wing in college and one of the reported reasons he left UConn was the fact that he wanted to play small forward, something that didn’t change at his new destination. Possessing more of a swingman’s build than a post player’s, Smith didn’t demonstrate much in the way of an outside game, nor does he have the size to compete against big men on the next level. His lack of a perimeter jumper, polished ballhandling and experience guarding wing players on a full-time basis don’t bode well for a positional change.
Draft projection: Smith is a mid-to-late second-round prospect, but fortunately for him, rebounding is one of the few statistics that NBA personnel believe translates fairly directly from college to the pros. Assuming he fares well during head-to-head competition against fellow draft hopefuls, whether small forwards or power forwards, Smith will at least be afforded the opportunity to showcase his talent in summer league and then, in training camp. It wouldn’t be surprising if his professional career started in the D-League or overseas, but there is a niche for a high-energy, rebounding machine like Smith at basketball’s highest level and if he can improve some of the other aspects of his game, he could eventually emerge as a role-playing reserve.