One-and-done prospects typically arrive in college with lofty recruiting pedigrees, but Zhaire Smith was assessed only a three-star grade coming out of Lakeview Centennial High in Garland, Texas. That evaluation undersold his ability to contribute early in his college career and his potential develop into a valuable pro. In his lone season at Texas Tech, Smith evolved into a capable perimeter scorer and became one of the key cogs in a Red Raiders defense that finished second nationally in adjusted efficiency. Smith helped push Texas Tech to 27 wins, its highest NCAA tournament seed since 1996 and its first Elite Eight appearance.
The Crossover’s Front Office breaks down Smith’s strengths, weaknesses, NBA comparison and more in its in-depth scouting report.
Zhaire Smith, SF, Texas Tech| Freshmen
Height: 6'4" | Weight: 195| DOB: 6/4/99 (19)
Stats: 11.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 45.0 3FG%
• Has the burst to beat defenders off the dribble, get to the rim and finish in traffic.
• Malleable, disruptive defender capable of switching assignments. Nimble enough to contain guards and can hold his own against hefty wings.
• Shows potential to develop into a plus perimeter shooter. Shot at high percentage (45%) from deep on a low number of attempts at Texas Tech.
• Big-time athlete whose explosiveness shows up on both ends of the floor. Doesn’t just rely on athletic tools; plays with a lot of effort.
• Hasn’t turned 19 yet. Plenty of time to build out his offensive game.
• Needs to iron out the form on his jump shot. Good 3P% isn’t necessarily indicative of his long-range shooting ability. Attempted only 40 threes at Texas Tech.
• Rudimentary shot-creator off the dribble. Hardly ever created his own shot last season. Won’t be able to get by on explosiveness alone against more athletic defenders in the NBA.
• Defensive utility will be more limited at the next level than it was at Texas Tech because of his size. Could have a harder time switching assignments. Measured just 6’2.75” without shoes at the combine.
• Will be a limited offensive player who cramps spacing if he can’t develop into a reliable three-point shooter.
Player comparison: Doug Christie
Smith could grow into a more valuable 3-and-D wing over time, but there’s a lot of uncertainty about his shooting right now. He’s a total upside play.