Unable to shed enough weight to fulfill his immense potential during his two-plus years at UCLA, Josh Smith quit the team a month ago in hopes a change of scenery might help him reinvigorate his stalled career.
Now we know where that destination will be.
Smith will transfer to Georgetown and will be eligible to play by mid-December of 2013, according to a report from CBSSports.com. Smith's former AAU coach confirmed the news via text message Wednesday afternoon.
That Smith drew interest from the likes of Georgetown, Kansas and Washington is a testament to his tantalizing potential. The 6-foot-10 junior was a McDonald's All-American and one of the top big man prospects in the nation when he graduated from Kentwood High School in Kent, Wash. in 2010.
Smith flashed NBA potential when he averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 boards as a freshman, but he regressed as a sophomore as weight issues led to foul trouble and prevented him from playing more than a few minutes at a time without getting winded. He was only playing 13.5 minutes per game behind Travis and David Wear when he left UCLA this season, the scant playing time a product of Ben Howland's frustration that Smith had again failed to meet his target weight-loss goals during the offseason.
Whether taking Smith will be a good gamble for Georgetown has little to do with how he fits in the Hoyas' system or how he meshes with his teammates. It will primarily be a question of whether coach John Thompson III and his staff will have more success than UCLA did giving Smith the help he needs to get serious about basketball, to overcome his weight issues and to tap into his NBA potential.
If Smith can use his year off to shed 40 or 50 pounds so he can run the floor and play for longer than a couple minutes at a time, he could reemerge as an NBA prospect and one of the best centers in college basketball at Georgetown. If the change of scenery doesn't result in a change of habits, however, his college basketball legacy will probably be one of squandered potential.