Former UCLA Forward Josh Smith Considering Kansas

Stephen Dunn

The Junior was once a Kansas recruit and now he could finally be joining the Jayhawks to conclude his college career.

Josh Smith, who once was the 23rd ranked player in his high school class, recently quit the UCLA program due to weight problems that have caused him to grow to over 300 pounds, play in only about 13 minutes per game, and commit over 6 fouls per 40 minutes.

Smith is looking to finish his college career at either Washington, Georgetown or Kansas, and though he has never fulfilled the promise he once had, there are still reasons to want him.

First, Kansas won't have much front court depth next season: Jeff Withey and Kevin Young will be gone, and the Jayhawks will be leaning heavily on Perry Ellis, Jamari Traylor and Landen Lucas. They will also have recruit Joel Embiid who, high ceiling athlete that he is, is still incredibly raw. Bill Self has worked miracles with players before but that would be a tough group to mold into a championship contender.

Smith would bring experience to the front court, as well as elite level offensive rebounding and foul drawing. He was the 14th best offensive rebounder in the country as a Sophomore, and 2nd best as a Freshman. In addition, he's drawn more than 6 fouls per 40 minutes in every year of college (though he hasn't made a ton of free throws). Smith also has shot over 55% from two in every year as a collegian, showing the obvious talent that led to him being a big time recruit.

But with his problems with food and exercise, would he be worth it? It would be the ultimate showcase for Andrea Hudy if she could turn Josh Smith into a good body, but while she (and Bill Self) could probably motivate him to workout hard enough to make it work (there's literally no human that I don't think they could turn into a D1 caliber athlete), if Smith has an eating problem, it may be the type of thing that no one can fix, which is the saddest part of his ordeal.

Reading various quotes on his departure though, it seems like Smith was well liked within the program. It sounds like he will have only one semester of eligibility left if he plays next season, while he will have a full year if he wants to wait until 2014-15. Depending on how other recruiting efforts turn out, Smith seems like a very worthwhile gamble.

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