A day after NC State coach Mark Gottfried created a stir when he went on recruiting visits in a helicoptor, he picked up a huge commitment on Thursday as five-star Class of 2016 point guard Dennis Smith committed to the Wolfpack, CBS Sports has confirmed.
The news was reported first by Scout.com.
Smith, the No. 5 prospect in the nation according to 247 Sports, is considered one of the top point guards in the Class of 2016, and was considered the consensus No. 1 player at his position prior to his ACL tear in August. He is expected to make a full recovery within the next 6-9 months, and will be ready for his freshman season in Raleigh. He chose NC State over Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, and Wake Forest.
Smith told ESPN why he picked NC State over those other contenders.
“Growing up an NC State fan, I knew they would be one of my top schools,” Smith said. “Coach [Mark] Gottfried made me a priority, showing up, sitting in front to all my games in the live periods. That loyalty meant a lot to me. After giving the decision a lot of thought, we all felt State was the best situation for me.”
I got a chance to see Smith up close this summer in Las Vegas, where he played on Team Loaded in Las Vegas. Here’s what I wrote about what people can expect from his game following that performance.
Smith is a pure point guard prospect that has solid enough size to play the position in the NBA. He’s extremely quick with excellent ball-handling ability, able to navigate small, crowded spaces in the paint and make a variety of passes to either the corner or to crashing big men when he gets there.
He’s an awesome distributor whose best attribute is his feel in the pick-and-roll. All week, he and Bam Adebayo (who I’ll get momentarily) were nearly unstoppable in that situation, as Smith would basically direct him to exactly where the soft spot in the defense was, then pinpoint either a perfect pass to his outstretched arms or a beautiful little pocket pass to the 16-foot range for a jumper. With his quickness and smarts, it’s pretty easy to see how he could be successful in a league dominated with such situations.
He does need to improve his shooting from distance and his defense to get to the point where he could be an NBA starter, but Smith is pretty much exactly what you want from a floor general. He can break down defenses into the paint, score at the rim, make spectacular passes, and generally just lead your team. A guy that, again, has a wider range of outcomes due to his youth, but has a lot of upside due to what he already brings to the table. I like him a lot.
With Smith in tow, the attention now shifts to his AAU teammate Adebayo, who could follow quickly in his footsteps. Our own Matt Norlander reported back in July that NC State was the favorite for both Smith and Adebayo, and that they could end up becoming a package deal when they decide to commit. NC State has been recruiting the tandem for quite a long time, dating back to when Gottfried took over the program in 2011. Adebayo is expected to commit to the school of his choice by the end of the fall.
As far as what Smith’s commitment means for both Gottfried and the program, it’s the highest profile recruit that he’s been able to lure in his time. Smith is a legitimate program changer. The type of point guard that can dominate and win NCAA Tournament games. With him in tow with Cat Barber, the Martin twins (Cody and Caleb), Abdul-Malik Abu, and Beejay Anya, it’s relatively easy to see how they could become a player for the conference title in the ACC sooner rather than later.
Then, if he can lure in Adebayo along with his already committed point guard? Not only will they be putting a lot of pressure on somewhat troubled rival North Carolina, but they could be well on their way to building a legitimate national contender for 2016.