Though he has worked out for six teams, including twice for the Pacers, the 6-11 former Butler center isn’t expecting to be selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday night. Instead, he’ll likely follow the career path most recently blazed by Bulldogs predecessor Matt Howard.
Since leaving Butler as an honorable mention all-America and starter in consecutive national championship games, Howard has played professionally in Greece, France and Germany.
Smith, former teammate Rotnei Clarke, Howard and Utah Jazz player and former Bulldog icon Gordon Hayward all have been working out at the St. Vincent Sports Performance in the offseason. While Smith and Clarke go through the pre-draft process, Howard and Hayward offer fatherly – or big brotherly – advice based on their experiences.
Howard may well be the most pragmatic when it comes to job-hunting.
“Matt basically just says go wherever you can,” Smith said. “I can’t really be picky right now.”
One of three Butler players (along with Hayward and Howard) with 1,000 career points and 100 career victories, Smith averaged 11.3 points and 6.1 rebounds as a senior, shooting .496 from the field and .718 from the free throw line.
He performed respectably at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, a pre-draft event largely populated by potential second-round prospects (including Clarke), averaging 5.3 points and 6.7 rebounds.
A second-team academic all-America, Smith knows how to read the draft landscape.
“It’ll have to be right-place, right time to play in the NBA and I’m comfortable with that fact,” he said. “I’ve known that for a while. I’ve had a good opportunity to come out here and work out for some teams and the Pacers brought me back twice. Obviously, I’m local so it’s an easier choice for them but I’m happy to be here and hopefully I’ll be able to play a little bit more in the summer league.”
The workouts themselves have been invaluable experience for Smith, giving him a true gauge of how he measures up against other draft prospects. In Monday’s workout at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, he matched up with Brock Motum, a 6-8 power forward from Washington State.
“You realize everyone’s pretty good,” Smith said. “Playing in college, most of the guys you play are good but when you’re here, everybody’s good. Everybody’s as big, as strong and as fast as you are. It’s a level playing field and you really see the small things that make a difference.”
Just where the future will lead remains to be seen. Smith said he has tentative summer-league offers from the Pacers and Thunder.
After that? C’est la vie.
>> FINAL WORKOUT TODAY
Louisville point guard Peyton Siva was scheduled to participate in Monday’s workout but had a conflict and was replaced by C.J. Harris of Wake Forest. Arizona small forward Solomon Hill also had his second workout in front of the Pacers’ coaches and scouts.
Due in today for the final scheduled group workout before the draft are: wings Reggie Bullock (North Carolina), A.J. Davis (James Madison) and Nick Minnerath (Detroit) and big men Greg Echenique (Creighton), Julian Gamble (Miami) and Joffrey Lauvernge (France). Of that group, only Bullock is considered a likely first-round prospect.