NC State freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr. declares for NBA
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) North Carolina State freshman Dennis Smith Jr. is heading to the NBA.
The point guard declared for the draft during a Tuesday morning announcement on ESPN. The move was no surprise since Smith was considered a likely one-and-done prospect this year and is projected to be a potential top-five pick.
''I believed I had a good chance whenever I hit college,'' Smith said. ''I thought it was definitely an obtainable dream for me, and I knew I would chase it with all my might.''
In a text message to The Associated Press, Smith's father, Dennis Sr., said the family was ''still weighing our options'' for hiring an agent.
Smith was one of two players in Division I to post two triple-doubles. But the Wolfpack finished near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference standings, a season that unraveled so completely that it ultimately cost coach Mark Gottfried his job .
Smith was named freshman of the year by the league - the program's first since Hawkeye Whitney shared the award in 1977 - as well as ACC newcomer of the year by the AP. He led all ACC freshmen in scoring (18.1), led the league in assists (6.2) and ranked second in steals (1.9).
The 19-year-old from Fayetteville also became only the fourth player in league history to have two triple doubles in the same season - Virginia great Ralph Sampson was the only other freshman to do it - and the first of that group to have two during league play.
The 6-foot-3 point guard did it in his first full season back from a major knee injury suffered shortly before his senior year of high school, an injury that led him to enroll a semester early in January 2016 to focus on his rehab before making his playing debut that November.
Smith said he planned to complete his college degree.
The high point was his dominating 32-point performance during the Wolfpack's first win at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995. He also had triple-doubles against Virginia Tech (27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists) and Syracuse (13 points, 11 rebounds 15 assists), while his 16 assists against Rider in December were tied for the most in any Division I game this year.
Still, the losses piled up. The Wolfpack (15-17, 4-14 ACC) lost five games by at least 24 points after being picked to finish sixth in the preseason, a prediction based largely on Smith's arrival.
''I've never had a season like this in my life, so it's brand new,'' Smith said in an interview with the AP before the team's regular-season finale. ''It's an adjustment. It's definitely a learning experience. It's just difficult. It's difficult, I'm not going to lie.''
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