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Making The Grade: A Look At Adam Smith

The next installment in an ongoing series reviewing the performance of VT men's basketball players from this past season and projecting into 2014-15.

Injuries to his calf and knee hampered Adam Smith's first season as an eligible player for the Hokies, but when he was able to hit the court he showed his ability to score against tough competition.

Smith was the first player former coach James Johnson brought in to the program as a transfer from UNC-Wilmington where he averaged 13.7 PPG as a freshman.

At Tech, he quickly proved that his scoring would continue as he averaged 11 PPG and 2.1 assists per contest. He scored in double digits in seven of his 14 games including a season-high 28 points against Radford at home and a 27-point outing against then No. 1 Michigan State on a neutral court in Brooklyn—though to be fair many of those points came in garbage time after the game was decided.

His reputation as an outside shooter certainly proved true as he shot 35.8% from behind the arc and 40.5% from two-point range. Smith flashed ability to drive to the basket despite his smaller size and though a bit streaky at times, he can really shoot from wherever he's left open.

Though he's a shooting guard by trade, Smith showed the ability to man the point guard slot in a pinch. That's important because Buzz Williams has loaded up on athletic shooting guard/wing players in his first recruiting class. The only available backups to Devin Wilson are Malik Mueller and a number of other kids who haven't played college ball yet. Smith will be a fourth year junior, a valuable commodity on what will be an extremely young team.

Smith was also a rarity last season for the Hokies in that he could make free throws. He only attempted 22 but made 18 of them. Oddly, they all came in just four of his 14 games.

And that's the trouble with evaluating Smith, it's all based on a small sample size. He finished second on the team in scoring but his injuries prevented us from seeing if that pace would hold up through the bulk of ACC play. His scoring average plummeted in conference play (6.7 PPG) but that includes just 2 points in 30 combined minutes against Clemson and Notre Dame when he was trying to play through injury.

If he can stay healthy he can be a valuable scorer off the bench for the Hokies. Unfortunately, with the limitations of his size and the infusion of new talent at his position, Smith is likely the odd man out at the shooting guard slot at this point heading into next season.

Overall Grade: Incomplete


Flyers13 Hot Take

So what shall we focus on today? Smith's 'Theory of Moral Sentiments' (1759)? Or the more ubiquitous, 'Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations' (1776)? Oh, just our injured transfer combo guard who might find himself without a home in Buzz Williams physical defensive system?

Sorry, I had the wrong Smith, and now I'm sure we just lost half our readers, who undoubtedly come here for the academia. Don't worry we can discuss the ramifications of the invisible guiding hand in the comments below. A blue book exam will follow, along with refreshments that YOU will provide. Do I know how to kick off a party or what?!

Smith transferred to VT with a reputation as an offensive spark plug who exercised poor shot selection, and he never did stray far from that initial assessment. And that's about it. Seriously, there wasn't a more one-dimensional player on the VT team, and likely not one in the entire league. A typical Smith night is about 13 points and two to three assists, and features him showing irrational confidence in his jumper's range along with headlong forays to the hoop against two larger defenders. Anywhere inside the hashes and he was "green-lit" in his own mind. He got yanked unceremoniously a few times due to this, but because of the dearth of depth in the backcourt, he often subbed back in fairly quickly. In my opinion, a shock collar might have been beneficial.

He struggled early on with injuries following the Coaches vs Cancer weekend in NYC, where he showed he could hang with one of the better backcourts in the nation in Michigan State's Gary Harris and Keith Appling. Yes, his points came late in that MSU game, but he was the ONLY one showing fight. It's a shame he wasn't able to build on that momentum.

I have no quarrel with Smith's aggressive approach, and to be honest, I wouldn't have trusted former coach James Johnson to do much in the way of tweaking it. But I have to say that Smith was a disappointment on the ball as a distributor, often displaying selfish tendencies. The sequence at the end of the first BC game where he had time on the clock but still forced up a fadeaway on the left baseline (a no-no for a shortish right-handed shooter) in a game that was still winnable at that point was particularly inexcusable.

Had Smith made the first pass that could have led to the extra pass, the Hokies might have won, and a confidence-building early season win might have changed the season's fortunes just a bit for the better. I believe that if we had won the BC game, we would have found a way to avoid the 20 loss noose. This Hokie team never learned to win, and that game was fairly pivotal to our collective self-esteem. Nobody in the ACC should have lost to that BC team, yet VT did twice. Beating the Eagles the first time might have led to a second win up in Boston. As it was, the second game wasn't even close, the Hokies lost by 24.

Smith's defense is matchup-dependent, which is why I was campaigning for him to come off the bench from the jump, with Ben Emelogu to start at the two guard instead. I view Smith as a change of pace ballhandler and bench scorer which should be a fantastic advantage for the Hokies. Smith logging minutes as a primary defender on the other teams starting PG has not turned out well thus far. The pairing of Devin Wilson and Smith generated very few steals, and the pair ignored the passing lanes in favor of playing sound positional defense. This lack of pressure on the ball likely saved Wilson's overused legs, but did little to throw opposing teams off their rhythm. And again, the backcourt depth was just a nightmare, especially with Marquis Rankin on his way out the door and Malik Mueller being ineligible.

With Mueller having undergone an offseason medical procedure, and the influx of more "right-sized" wing players in the 2014 recruiting class, it's entirely possible that my hopes might be realized, and Smith can turn into that 3rd guard. If he does, it's my sincerest hope that he focuses on how he can help this team be better, perhaps at the expense of his own scoring numbers.

It's been some time since we had a serviceable backup PG, and no I don't count Erick Green as a sophomore, as he was still wild and erratic. I honestly think we'd need to go back to Nigel Munson (who eventually transferred to GW to be closer to home) who backed up Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell for me to find a guy who could run an offense, defend, AND score (in that critical order).

Smith has two years of eligibility left, and it will be interesting to see just what role Buzz Williams envisions for him next year. Will Smith find a role and have his transfer work out, or will he be relegated to a role deeper on the bench in favor of size and defense. It's a tough spot to be in, having to audition for a new coach, knowing that the coach's own "new hires" are nipping at your heels.

Grade: C when he played, but overall Incomplete

We have just one or two more hoop grades before this task is complete. Let us know what grade you think Smith deserved in the poll below!

Nuestro Cassell es su Cassell here at Gobbler Country.