Mike Howells/Collegian File Photo
Just hours before Fresno State Director of Athletics Thomas Boeh announced coach Steve Cleveland would no longer lead the program, center Greg Smith declared his elegibilty for the NBA Draft.
Now, with the two faces of the Fresno State program the past two seasons no longer with Bulldog basketball, the program is headed for a major image reconstruction. The Fresno, Calif., native has opted to forgo his junior and senior seasons in a Bulldog uniform and test the NBA waters in the draft this June.
During Smith’s two-year Fresno State career, the Bulldogs went 29-35 overall and 13-19 in Western Athletic Conference play. Smith averaged 11.6 points and 6.95 rebounds per game in two seasons, and led the team this past season with 11.7 points per game. He was fourth in the WAC in rebounding with 8.1 boards per game during the 2010-11 season.
Smith is the second player in as many years to leave school early to play professionally. Paul George, who led the Bulldogs in scoring during the 2009-10 season, opted for the NBA Draft and was an eventual lottery pick, going No. 10 overall to the Indiana Pacers. George has played in 47 games this season, starting five and averaging 8.1 points per game, eighth best among rookies.
ESPN.com ranks Smith as the 16th-best center prospect in the upcoming draft. George faced similar fate when he initially announced his declaration for the NBA Draft but impressed scouts and quickly climbed up the boards.
The recently let go Cleveland said he will remain in close contact with Smith and his decision to take his talents to the next level. Cleveland said he has already talked to Smith’s uncle, but will continue discussions with the two this weekend.
“We’re going to have some discussions, and whatever Greg decides to do I’ll support him.”
Smith collected second-team All-WAC honors this season, a year after the 6-foot-10 NBA prospect was named the WAC Freshman of the Year as well as being named to the 2009-10 WAC All-Newcomer Team.