ACC’s Top-25: No. 5 – Tracy Smith, N.C. State

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In every sport, there is always one of those guys that if you slipped him onto another roster, he’d be all the rage. In the ACC, this player is Tracy Smith.

After two years of growing pains, Smith bullied his way to the top of the ACC last year. He was 7th in scoring (16.5 ppg), 9th in rebounds (7.3 rpg), first in shooting percentage (.524) and 9th in minutes (32.1).

Slip him into Carolina blue and he might have gotten one or two All-American votes. Instead, he was a great player on a bad team, known more for their coach’s swanky red jackets than its basketball.

Of course, thanks to a Sidney Lowe career-saving recruitment class, this might not be a problem for Smith anymore. In 2010-2011, Smith will be the top player for a Wolfpack team that could potentially compete for an ACC crown.

At 6’8, Tracy Smith isn’t the tallest big man on the court, but at 250, he’s certainly one of the most brutish.  Don’t get me wrong though…he’s not just a bulldozer in the paint (Jordan Williams gets that honor).

With long arms and surprisingly quick feet, Smith has developed into one of the more savvy forwards in the league. He can score facing the basket or away, with a nice arsenal of moves that help him work over, around or under defenders.

Duke fans of course know all about what Smith can do. Against the Blue Devils last year, Smith was the Devils’ daddy, scoring 23 on 10-12 shooting. My point being, when Smith was on, he was on. Yet, heading into his senior season (he declared for the NBA draft, but smartly came back), there is work to be done.

Defense, rebounding and consistency were minor issues last year, in need of work. His improvement in these three areas will determine his fate in 2010-2011.

First, on the defensive side, it’s not that smith is a bad defender, but from time to time, he can get a little flat footed. He’s not really a shot blocker (about one per contest), instead relying on his size and positioning. The problem of course is, quicker forwards can find ways around him.

Second, Smith needs to become a window washer. Of course its not that his rebounding totals are bad. He averaged over seven per game last year, but in ACC play, I’d never consider him a monster on the glass. He grabbed double-digit rebounds only twice in ACC games and none after January 23. In his final three games of the season (one game in the ACC Tournament and two in the N.I.T.), he grabbed a total of 10 boards.

Lastly and most importantly, Smith needs to become more consistent. Now typically when I write that a player needs to become more consistent, it typically means that player tends to fade from games mentally or can get lazy. Neither of those statements is true of Smith.

In Tracy’s case, his problem is he can be rattled. If things aren’t going his way, he can turn bad situations into worse ones. The best example of this was the difference between playing at home and playing on the road.

At home, Smith shot lights out, hitting 61% of his shots. Away from Raleigh, he hit only 42% of his shots.

Overall, fouling wasn’t an issue for Smith (he fouled out only twice all season), but on the road, he averaged 3.2 fouls per game (getting four fouls or more seven times in sixteen games). At home, he only picked up 2.3 fouls per game.

Of course, there is no doubt a lot of his problems had to do with the supporting cast, or lack of, surrounding him. Even the greatest of players need help, right Lebron?

With the improvement of Scott Wood and Javier Gonzalez and the addition of freshman C.J. Leslie, Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown, Smith should see less double teams and feel less pressure to be the only play-maker on the court.

The fact is, every year this kid has been in a Wolfpack uniform, he’s gotten better. His senior year won’t be any different. Look for him to finish top-five in scoring, rebounding and shooting percentage. He should also get his first taste of the NCAA Tournament in 2010-2011 and maybe sneak into the back end of the first-round of the NBA draft.

#6 – KYRIE IRVING, GUARD – DUKE

#7 – JORDAN WILLIAMS, FORWARD – MARYLAND

#8 – DURAND SCOTT, GUARD – MIAMI

#9 – CHRIS SINGLETON, FORWARD – FLORIDA STATE

#10 – DORENZO HUDSON, GUARD – VIRGINIA TECH

#11 – DEMONTEZ STITT, GUARD – CLEMSON

#12 – REGGIE JACKSON, GUARD – BOSTON COLLEGE

#13 – JEFF ALLEN, FORWARD – VIRGINIA TECH

#14 – JOHN HENSON, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA

#15 – XAVIER GIBSON, CENTER – FLORIDA STATE

#16 – C.J. LESLIE, FORWARD – NORTH CAROLINA STATE

#17 – GLEN RICE JR., GUARD – GEORGIA TECH

#18 – REGGIE BULLOCK, GUARD – NORTH CAROLINA

#19 – MASON PLUMLEE, FORWARD – DUKE

#20 – C.J. HARRIS, GUARD – WAKE FOREST

#21 – SETH CURRY, GUARD – DUKE

#22 – SEAN MOSLEY, GUARD – MARYLAND

#23 – JOE TRAPANI, FORWARD – BOSTON COLLEGE

#24 – MIKE SCOTT, FORWARD – VIRGINIA

#25 IMAN SHUMPERT, GUARD – GEORGIA TECH