Joshua Smith has found a fresh start at Georgetown, where he is in a position to succeed as a dominant low-post player. In the big center's debut for the Hoyas against Oregon, Smith scored 25 points in a losing effort. The Washington native also grabbed four offensive rebounds and had two assists, but it was his minutes that stood out. Smith logged 27 of them Friday, a statistic that should quiet some of his doubters.
Against Oregon, Smith took a lot of punishment in his post-ups. Ducks defenders sent him to the line on five separate occasions, where Smith hit five of his nine total attempts. Like any guy his size, free-throw shooting will play a significant part of the newest Hoya's production. Smith shot nearly 60 percent from the line as a freshman, a number that the junior should build on.
Recruited by Ben Howland to play for UCLA, Smith had a promising freshman season that saw him average 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds. After being named an all-conference freshman, Smith looked like he would develop into a force down low. But the relationship soured between Howland and Smith as the coach questioned the commitment and playing weight of his center. Just six games into last season, Smith left school.
Listed at 350 pounds, the 6'10 big man was essentially a free agent. He chose Georgetown, where he enrolled in January and began practicing with the team. And thanks to an NCAA waiver Smith retains two years of eligibility for the Hoyas, meaning he can play until 2015.
Going forward, Smith will be the focus of Georgetown's offense. There are few collegiate big men who can guard him on the block, and the game against Oregon showcased his abilities as a low-post passer. Two Ducks players fouled out and two others finished with four fouls, another issue opponent's coaching staffs must face.
By the time Georgetown plays No. 5 Kansas in December, we should have an idea if Smith's weight and alleged commitment issues will affect his play. But for now, coach John Thompson has to feel like he's been given a gift.