For a kid growing up in the bright lights of Los Angeles, it is now easy to see that Craig's dreams and aspirations had a trajectory in the clouds of a professional NBA player. On June 28, 2006 the former Boston College forward saw his dreams become a reality after being selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Smith was drafted with the 6th pick of the 2nd round, 36th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft. The consensus All-American's slip to the second round was attributed to his size. Scouts seemingly saw his lack of size as a detriment for a NBA power forward, labeling him as a "tweener" between the 3 and 4 positions. Aran Smith of NBAdraft.net explained, "Will have trouble finding a true position… Will struggle trying to guard taller 4’s as well as quicker 3’s"
Although this was cause for concern by accounts of NBA scouts, the positives were more than encouraging for Smith. "A dominant college post player who has consistently put up numbers against top competition … Well developed post game … With his power he is almost unstoppable in one-on-one situations" said the scouts.
As we covered before in our previous installment, Smith and his teammates in college were some of the hardest workers in college hoops. They were remembered as a group that were angry, and had brought chips on their shoulders. This mentality proved to pay off not only for the Eagles in their season but for Smith's career as a whole, "it was like everything I worked so hard for had paid off in that moment. Hard work and a positive attitude while working towards my dream everyday since I was 4 made that moment indescribable." Smith further noted, "it is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced."
Smith would go on to spend six seasons in the NBA. His time included an all rookie team selection and a homecoming of sorts, as the LA native spent two seasons with the Clippers. After his NBA career was cut short by injuries, Smith went on to play a few seasons overseas for a career that lasted a decade. Learning plenty along the way, he attributed ten years of a professional basketball career to his motto, “Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.” Further elaborating just what that means to him, "Work on your game, eat right to fuel your body to be at its best, be a student of the game, and don’t let people distract you who don’t have your best interest at heart!"
For those who remember Smith's time at BC they will surely remember the big man as a goofy and fun loving guy. That attitude has followed Smith in his post playing days. Currently working on a children's book about his character, "the Rhino", as well as the story of his life.
Basketball fans alike can rejoice in knowing they can receive further content on the Cali big man in the next year or two. Additionally anyone who still wishes to watch Smith play certainly can. Smith explaining "I’m playing in the Big3, I still have a lot left since my career was cut short due to injuries. But I’m back and healthier than ever!" Great news for basketball fans, but presumably not such great news for his opponents in Ice Cube's Big 3 league. Smith also still hold an imprint in the NBA workings as an ambassador for the LA Clippers.
Craig Smith's impact on the Boston College basketball program has been well documented, and in 2019 his legacy was cemented as he was inducted in Boston College's Varsity Club Hall of Fame. "I was honored and grateful as an inner city kid from Los Angeles being inducted into the HOF just proved that you can do anything you put your mind too." Being a leader by example really blends well with the schools motto, "Men and women for others" and in retrospect its easy to see the the deep connection between Smith and the school. Noting additionally "I am immortalized at BC and that is something that not many people will be able to accomplish in a lifetime so it feels exceptional."
Smith's time as an Eagle was highlighted with many great victories, fantastic players and an overall winning culture. For a program that has not seen an NCAA appearance since 2009 and all but two other post season appearances since, (NIT 2011, 2018) the school's struggles have been well documented. When asked on his stance on the current state of his former team, Smith is hopeful "It’s been tough watching some teams having a tough time. Being a part of a winning culture along with Troy and Dudley I know that we can get back to that place with our current BC players." also saying "There is some good talent who want to make their mark on the school. I really enjoyed talking to some of these guys when I was there in October of last year and can see that they’re driven and I look forward to seeing them shine."
Smith's accomplishments in basketball speak for themselves. To see how far they have stretched beyond the court is remarkable but certainly not surprising given his work ethic and determination. He is a fine reminder of what embodies a scholar athlete, and an education and determination can manifest into at Boston College.