Steven Smith

Steven Smith profile
Height: 6'9" (206 cm)
Weight: 236 lbs (107 kg)
Position: SF/PF
High School: Northeast High School (Pennsylvania)
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
College: La Salle
Current Team: Antibes
Win - Loss: 14 - 10


NBA D-League Showcase, Day One

Jonathan Givony
Jonathan Givony
Jim Hlavac
Jim Hlavac
Mike Schmidt
Mike Schmidt
Richard Walker
Richard Walker
Jan 15, 2008, 04:15 am
This was not a great game for Anaheim combo forward Steven Smith, one of the top scorers in the D-League up until this point. His team really struggles to find any type of cohesive offensive rhythm, often resorting to Isolations and one on one play, and Smith may have gotten a little too caught up in this type of game as well. Anaheim does not appear to be the most organized team you’ll find here, and the excessive amount of freedom he enjoys offensively probably works against him to a certain extent.

With that said, you could still see that there is a lot of talent and determination to be found in Smith’s game, even if that didn’t always produce great results out on the floor. Smith is a high-energy, extremely aggressive player on both ends of the floor, which leads him to a lot of good sequences, but also a lot of bad. He likes to play facing the basket primarily, where he can put the ball on the floor and attack his matchup, and either finish with a pretty floater, pull-up off the dribble, or turn-around and go to work with his back to the basket. He’s a very versatile offensive player, possessing range out to the NBA 3-point line and a team spirit that shines through despite his insistence of playing so much one on one basketball. Being a good, but not great athlete, he often struggles to fully beat his man off the dribble when attacking him from the perimeter, which is what leads to many of his problems (read: turnovers).

Defensively, Smith is a very long and physical guy. He plays hard, is fundamentally sound, and extremely active. He hits the glass hard on both ends of the floor, making the most of his solid athleticism and frame. As far as the NBA is concerned, he might not quite be quick enough to play the small forward position, and probably isn’t strong enough to guard most power forwards, but we’ve seen players with a similar profile make it against the odds in the past. It’s not clear just how close he is to making it at this point, but he’s a really nice basketball player regardless.

Talking NBA draft with La Salle's Steven Smith

Landry Fields
Landry Fields
May 22, 2006, 01:50 pm
One of those players you may not know, but who the NBA scouts are very familiar with, is La Salle forward Steven Smith. A college grad who tested the waters in 2005, Smith averaged a cool 20 points and 8 boards in his senior year, and was twice named A-10 Player of the Year, sharing it in 2005 and winning it outright this past season, and hsa twice made the All-Atlantic 10 first team.

A good mid-range shooter with a long wingspan, the 6'9" Smith found himself squarely on scouts' radars after a strong showing at the Chicago camp last summer. After deliberating, Smith and his advisors decided he would return to La Salle for another season. Smith isn't an all-world athlete, but he's a crafty and successful basketball player. And we you'll read, he's well aware of what he's getting himself into.


I catch up with Smith the afternoon after a day full of workouts, and he's gracious to take the call. Turns out, this day is not much different from most others in Smith's life since April.

"Well, basically, I just get up in the morning, me and one of my teammates, he's trying to get a job [in the pros] as well. We get up at around 7 o'clock and we go to this place called The Summit, a sports and athletic training facility that my agent [Steve Mountain] owns, he has a couple of them here in Philly and out in Westchester (Pa.). ... we cover all the bases of athletic training and we do a whole lot of stuff that you might not do anywhere else. It's a pretty unique place.

"When we go there there's no basketball, we do everything, we do speed work, footwork, core, ab work, agility, change of direction, a whole array of things. ... And it's so much different from the things you might do in the regular season, and it's so much different from probably what a lot of people are doing in my position, trying to get a job [in the NBA] next year."

I told Steven that it sounded like he was approaching this year's draft process with a real sense of urgency, and asked whether this sort of specific and deliberate training regimen was at all a result of his experiences last year at this time, when the then-junior in La Salle Steven Smith declared for the draft, went to the Chicago Pre-Draft Camp and then decided to pull his name out in time to return to school.

"It was a good experience, no. 1, and now I know, pretty much, what I'm getting myself into this year at the [Pre-Draft Camp], should I play there would be no surprises, and I'll pretty much know how things go."

And what would that entail?

"The main thing is, once they get there, that people need to make sure that they maintain a high level of focus and don't get distracted. You only have a week out there in front of everybody, and if you get distracted, it might really throw you off your game. [Focusing] is what I did last year, and I don't plan on doing anything differently this year. I want to take the same approach and hopefully will have just as good a result."


And it's true, Smith had an outstanding showing in front of the NBA establishment last year, and our very own on-hand scouts rated Smith as one of the three best performers at the 2005 NBA Chicago Pre-Draft Camp. But if he did so well in his audition, why did he choose to return to school for his senior year?

"I had no regrets this year, and, also, I really wanted to come back to have a winning season in college and finish my last year with my teammates, we had been through a lot and those guys mean a whole lot to me. Also, it was pretty much a business decision on my part. I had a good camp last year, but you never know how things are going to go on draft night, so I didn't want to risk anything, especially seeing how last year's draft [process] went, I just wasn't exactly sure... so I decided to safe the safe route. I figured the worst that would happen over the year, other than injury which is on everybody's mind, is that I would be in the same position this year as I was last year, in terms of people knowing who I am and coming from a small school. Just having to prove myself again, and that wasn't too hard. I knew I could [prove myself].

"Luckily, it worked out and I had a great year at school, and now I only have one decision, and it's pretty much the only one. I don't have to worry now about staying in the draft or going back to school because I'm done now."

Well played, I thought. For every Smith out there, there are two Marcus Taylors -- he of Michigan State early-entry fame -- it seems, guys who burn their one chance by shooting for a distant moon with a slingshot. Then again, for a guy like Smith, such forethought isn't that surprising. This guy isn't just earning his college degree this May, he already earned it, last year.

But degree or no degree, don't think for a moment that Smith isn't totally trained in on the short-term NBA future he has set himself up for.

"Right now, I have one focus, and that's getting up and working out and preparing for the draft camp and the months ahead, and that's all I can think about. As far as goals IN basketball, I want to make sure I make a good impression in there and really push myself so that I can have a good career. I don't want to just be on the scene for a little bit, I want to be there for a while and get better."

Smith is already pretty good, you see. A two-time first-team All-Atlantic 10 selection, and the co-player of the year this season, not to mention an honorable mention All-American, Smith felt that there were still skills and talents that private workouts and the Orlando draft camp could provide scouts that he hadn't yet shown them with his outstanding collegiate career. Smith downplayed the common argument that a player who is 24 years old can't have any upside left in NBA scouts' minds.

"I could display [to them] a little versatility. Since school has been out, I have been paying a lot more attention to playing out on the perimeter -- offensively and defensively. I was always kind of a mix-it-up [down low] guy in college. But I have decided to do more of that [versatility], either back down smaller defenders or use my size to gain advantage over smaller defenders and then I could go outside and be a bigger defender.

"Coming from a smaller school, you know, there were plenty of people out to see me, but my agent sometimes says they might still need to see exactly what you can do, so my mindset right now is just to be prepared so that when I go these workouts, I can make these teams remember some of the things that I can do and things that I've been improving on."


And it's true that some swingman skills could help Smith's draft profile, as he won't be able to physically dominate in the NBA the way he did against a Rhode Island, a Fordham or even a Temple. Smith felt his NBA position would need to be similarly nuanced.

"Honestly, I'm not sure. I think it depends on the situation, on the guys I'm playing with, how I fit into the system, but that's what I'm really geared up for, to be a better perimeter player, whether that's a small forward. But I think in the right situation, at certain times, I could maybe step over into the '4' [power forward spot]. Some people think I'm like 6'6", I'm actually about 6'9", so hopefully I can surprise some people with that when I get out to the camp."

Smith's size could play into his draft status, and his agility makes an exact comparison to a current NBA player tougher than for some of his fellow prospects. After deliberation, DraftExpress tabbed Smith as a David West-like power forward with some shooting touch. Smith had another, perhaps surprising, comparison in mind. One that many NBA teams would be happy to see from him.

"Since the college season has been over, I've been watching certain players and, not comparing really, but I've been watching what they do for their team, and I've been watching a lot of Tayshaun Prince. I watch a lot of the things he does on the floor, and he's 6'9". I think his wingspan might be a little longer than mine, but we're the same size and height. And he contributes to the team in many ways and he's a big defender; I've been watching the way he defends people, so that's kind of how I want to fit into a team, especially coming in. I want to show them that I'm big, but I can defend, I can knock down shots and just contribute to the team from there."

As the Cleveland Cavaliers can attest, defenders of Prince's stature are a nightmare, and as the recently re-signed, starting forward Prince could add, having the versatility to shoot, defend and rebound can prove to be a useful and invaluable skill set for an NBA future.

Smith plans on playing at the Pre-Draft camp in Orlando, unless his private workouts prove so good that he would only hurt his image by mixing it up with hungry second-round talent. Still, he says. "My mindset right now, and how I approach it every day, is that I will be playing and participating in everything. And if I have to play, I don't care. I love to play."

As for the tougher question of potential draft spots, Smith was cautious but confident that there was some positive movement for him as the draft gets ever-closer.

"I talk every now and then to my agent Steve Mountain [who also represents fellow Philly native Jameer Nelson] and he mentions some of this stuff to me, and he's been telling me that in the past month or so I've been moving up, and people are starting to come around they're starting to pay a little bit more attention to me. ... it seems always, like, [pick] 22, 20-40, something like that."

But Smith isn't getting caught up in mock drafts, predictions or potential spots.

"Me, personally, I don't like hearing too much of that cause it's a business now. I'm just going to sit back and do what I have to do in terms of preparation and go hard in my workouts and just wait until that [draft] night actually gets there and we'll see what actually happens. I don't want to get my hopes up, I don't want to get disappointed, I don't want to be angry, I'll just go into it with a level-head, an even mind, and we'll just see what happens on that night."

Focused, driven. What you'd expect from a small school star accustomed to not seeing himself on ESPN, to scratching his way for the extra rebound, the last shot. So will he relax once the draft is here, and see what happens?

"I've thought about it some," he said, in regards to whether he'll watch the draft from the seats in New York or at home. "I haven't decided whether I'll go up there for the draft or not. I'm thinking about keeping it low key with my mom and my girlfriend and her mom and just a few of my closest friends. I don't really have a whole lot of people around me. Just watching it, and celebrating with the closest people to me."

Sounds like the sort of thing a guy who returned to La Salle for his teammates and for a winning season might say.

And, finally, having played the draft declaration game through completely, what advice would Smith have for sophomores and juniors playing the same delicate game of "walk the line?"

"Number one, make sure you push yourself. Be prepared. Even if you're just testing the waters, approach every day like you're keeping your name in the draft. Don't have any reservations about, 'I might be going back to school,' because that might be the case, but you want to push yourself to the level as if you might keep your name in the draft, that you're going to be drafted this year. That will just make you work harder and make the workouts go harder, and then you never know what might happen.

"And then No. 2, for me, I think the process was a whole lot easier for me because I didn't have a lot of people telling me a lot of things that I wanted to hear or that they thought that I want to hear. I didn't get advice from a whole lot of places. Just make sure that you keep your circle of advice, keep it small and limited and make sure you're getting good advice, and don't just trust anybody. Because there's a lot of people who will tell you what you want to hear because they're trying to get ahead.

"Just approach every day like you're in the draft, and make sure the advice you're getting isn't coming from everywhere, and that the advice you are getting is trustworthy and that the people giving it actually have your best interests at heart. ... My advisor last year, who's now my agent, I knew he had my best interests at heart. He told me all the things I didn't want to hear, so [those are] the main things."

Steven Smith NBA Draft Scouting Report

Apr 18, 2006, 05:13 pm
Measuring in at the Chicago pre-draft camp last June at 6-8 ¾ in shoes with a 7 foot wingspan and 8-10 standing reach, Smith has ample size to play either forward position in the NBA. He is not an incredibly explosive athlete, but is a highly coordinated; the type of player who is never off balance, has excellent reflexes, and moves very smoothly on the court. The type of minutes he plays (last season an astounding 39.6 of a possible 40, this year 36 per game) tells you all you need to do about his level of conditioning.

Offensively, Smith is the definition of a mismatch at the college level, scoring nearly 2200 total points in his four year college career in 117 games, or close to 19 points a game on average each season. He gets most of his points simply by outsmarting and outworking his opponents, doing a great job of playing to his strengths and taking advantage of the oppositions’ weaknesses.

Smith is an opportunistic scorer, the type of player that’s always in the right place at the right time and can score in many different ways from all over the court. His bread and butter at the college level is his mid-range game, usually being able to take advantage of his height advantage to release the ball from a high release point and with pretty fluid mechanics; with excellent results. Smith sets excellent screens and is very good moving off the ball, knowing how to utilize his teammates’ screens effectively as well to cause even further mismatches. Smith will be a very effective pick and pop threat in the NBA if his coach decides to utilize that part of his game.

Smith is his team’s go-to guy, and acts like it too, constantly asking for the ball, looking to get himself in position to score, and shouldering much of his team’s scoring load in a very unselfish manner. Smith likes to go to work right outside the paint on the baseline with his back to the basket, slithering around defenders with his quickness if they get too close or elevating over the top of them for a turnaround jump-shot if he has even an inch of daylight. If his shot isn’t there or the double team comes (they always do), Smith displays an excellent basketball IQ passing the ball out of the post or from the perimeter to find the open man. He is extremely unselfish and will only force the issue when his team absolutely needs him to, which happens all too often unfortunately. He averages 2.5 assists per game, but would finish every game with twice as many if his teammates did a better job of finishing around the rim or knocking down open shots.

If given space--which is extremely rare considering his status as far as opposing defenses are concerned--Smith will knock down shots out to the college 3-point line and sometimes even beyond with his feet set.

Even though his turnovers on paper look to be very high (3.6 per game), this has more to do with his team’s grind it out style of play and the fact that he’s usually the one asked to go out of his element and create something out of nothing at the end of possessions with the shot clock running down. In the NBA he’ll likely be known as the type of player who doesn’t make many mistakes and will never hurt his team on the offensive end.

Defensively, Smith does an adequate job for the most part at the college level, but is in no position to wear himself out physically or get into foul trouble considering how important he is to his team’s efforts. His team plays plenty of zone to make sure this isn’t an issue, which makes him a little more difficult to evaluate. If needed, Smith will hit the deck for loose balls, setting an example for his teammates despite the fact that he is the team’s unquestioned star.

Another strong suit of his is his rebounding ability. Smith’s size, excellent wingspan and standing reach, terrific hands, high basketball IQ and the toughness he shows on the floor make him a force in this area. He doesn’t always play near the basket, but still managed to come up with a very solid 8 rebounds per game this season.

In terms of intangibles, there isn’t a whole lot you can ask for here. Smith is the kind of guy who seems to have “figured it out,” possessing an excellent attitude both on and off the court to go along with a terrific work ethic. As mentioned, his feel for the game is outstanding, as are his leadership skills, being the type of player who leads both with his voice as well as by example. In his senior year he took a young team without much talent on his back and carried them to a surprising 10-6 record in the Atlantic 10 (good for 3rd in the conference) and an 18-10 record overall.

Smith is not the type of player who can play for any team in any system, as his skill-set does not really fit the mold of either a true NBA small forward or power forward. Calling him a tweener would not be a terrible way to describe his game.

There are some questions about how he will be able to score points in the NBA if playing for a coach that isn’t willing to take advantage of his skills by not calling the right plays for him. He is neither a traditional back to the basket scorer due to his lack of height, post moves or significant bulk. He also won’t be a shot-creator at the next level on the perimeter as his ball-handling skills are fairly average for a small forward and he lacks an explosive first step to consistently beat his man off the dribble. Nor is he a prolific outside shooter, hitting only 26 3-pointers on the season at a very average 34% clip.

Those are essentially his three biggest weaknesses. His athleticism is solid, but not great. His ball-handling skills have greatly improved over the past few years, but still have a ways to go. His 3-point shooting ability is very average, as his release isn’t particularly quick and he loses significant consistency when be asked to shoot off the dribble.

In terms of his defense there are also some question marks, as he lacks the footspeed or experience to consistently guard the perimeter as well as the size and bulk to handle some of the more physical power forwards in the post.

Smith is a 5th year senior who will turn 24 in April. Keeping that in mind, NBA scouts will likely say that what you see is probably what you get at this point with him. That lack of upside especially could be the thing that prevents him from going in the first round.

Smith plays for LaSalle in the Atlantic 10, a conference that is caught somewhere between the "Big 6" power conferences and the mid-majors. The conference sent two teams to the NCAA tournament this year in George Washington and Xavier.

LaSalle had an outstanding season by their standards, moving right along in their rebuilding process under Head Coach Dr. John Giannini after the controversy that surrounded the school a year earlier (read below) and forced the head coach to resign.

Smith was once again named Atlantic 10 player of the year, averaging just under 20 points and 8 rebounds, with 2.5 assists, 3.6 turnovers, 1.1 steals, .8 blocks, and shooting 48.6% from the field, 33.8% 3P and 77.3% FT.

The only notable team LaSalle played in their out of conference schedule was Villanova, and Smith had a game he would probably like to forget. He scored 13 points, pulled down 8 rebounds, with 3 assists, 8 turnovers and shooting 5/14 from the field. Villanova beat their in-city Philly rivals by 41 points.

In his junior year, LaSalle finished 5-11 (tied for last in the A-10 West) in conference play (10-19 overall) which
should tell you all you need to know about the team Smith played for. They only had 7 players on scholarship, though, as three former teammates (including LaSalle's starting backcourt) of his were charged with raping a member of the Woman's basketball team before the season started.

As a junior he averaged 21 points (44.5% FG, 31% 3P), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1.4 steals, 0.7 blocks and 4.6 turnovers in 39.6 minutes per game. Against the 3 strongest teams Smith went up against that season, he put up fairly good numbers. 27 points (8-13 FG, 2-3 3P), 11 rebounds, 2 assists against USC; 19 points (6-15 FG, 1-3 3P), 8 rebounds against Villanova; and 35 points (13-23 FG, 2-5 3P) 7 rebounds against Cincinnati in Smith's best game of the year statistically. He played in all but 22 minutes out of the 1,570 minutes his team played as a junior.

He has been very productive throughout his career and his improved his numbers across the board from year to year.

Smith doesn’t seem to be the type of player that scouts will get extraordinarily excited about because of the things he CAN’T do, but there is plenty that he does do well to allow him to carve out a niche for himself as a role player in the NBA, should he fall into the right situation. His stock was at an all-time high last summer after being possibly the best player at the Chicago pre-draft camp, certainly from a statistical standpoint, but also just in the way that he managed to get the job done quietly and efficiently without forcing the issue in such a tough setting. He probably would have been drafted somewhere between 25-40 had he stayed in last year, but another year in college with slightly better numbers (a few less points, better FG% and 3P%, more assists, less turnovers, more wins) hasn’t affected his stock all that much. That’s the plight of a college senior in a nutshell. He’s projected as an early-to-mid second rounder at this point, but a team drafting in the late first round could certainly fall in love with as a role-playing contributor that can come in and play right way.

USC's then-coach Henry Bibby: "He's a no-miss as a pro player. He's definitely a first-round pick. He's one of the best small forwards I've seen at 6-8, and he can play a lot of positions and do a lot of things."

Shared Atlantic 10 player of the year honors as a junior with St. Joe's guard Pat Carroll.

Won the award outright as a senior.

After initially not qualifying for college basketball under Prop 48, Smith graduated with a business administration degree following his junior season.

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