NC State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. maybe went lower than he hoped, but landed in perhaps the best spot.
Smith was drafted No. 9 overall Thursday to the Dallas Mavericks, where he'll be able to compete right away for minutes with incumbent second-year point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell and veteran J.J. Barea. Most importantly, the Mavericks have been the picture of stability with veteran coach Rick Carlisle entering his 10th year in Dallas next season.
Future Hall of Fame power forward Dirk Nowitzki enters his 20th season in the NBA, highlighted by the NBA title in 2010-2011. Barea was also on the championship team.
Smith is the second lottery pick the Wolfpack have produced in recent years, joining T.J. Warren, who went No. 14 to the Phoenix Suns in the 2014 draft. Smith is also the highest drafted NC State player since Tom Gugliotta went No. 6 overall in 1992.
The former Fayetteville (N.C.) Trinity Christian standout averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, and shot 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent on three-pointers.
The 6-foot-3 Smith was named the ACC Freshman of the Year and second-team all-league. Smith joined former NCSU great Hawkeye Whitney as the only Wolfpack players to be named ACC freshman of the year. Whitney shared co-rookie of the year honors with Duke’s Mike Gminski in 1977.
Smith became the only player in conference history to register two triple-doubles in the same season or do it in two separate league games, and he has scored at least 30 points in an ACC-best four games.
Rivals.com rated Smith a five-star recruit and he likely would have been in the top six or seven if he had remained in the class of 2016. Instead, following a knee injury suffered in Aug. 2015, he enrolled for the spring semester at NC State and redshirted in order to rehab his knee.
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