PENN STATE UNIVERSITY
Tyler Smith 6-9 230 F
The senior forward, the only player with starting experience returning from Penn State's Sweet 16 team of last year, will be the key team leader on a young, talented and inexperienced team. The 6-8, 230-pound forward will also be asked to score more, rebound more, and guide the Nittany Lions through a rigorous Big Ten schedule. The power forward/center/swing man will have to fill numerous roles for Penn State as its most veteran player. Smith was invited to this past summer's USA Basketball National Team Trials, and is well respected by his peers throughout the conference.
2000-2001: Smith was a critical factor in Penn State's run to the NCAA's Sweet 16 last year. He was fourth on the team in scoring with a 7.6 ppg mark and second in rebounding at 4.5 rpg. His superb .514 field goal percentage was tops on the team, he hit .688 from the free throw line and, showcasing superb shooting range and versatility, hit 14 of 36 three-pointers.
Smith's game has shown steady improvement as his ppg mark has increased each year (1.0 to 2.9 to last year's 7.6). He had some outstanding offensive games last year, hitting for a career high 189 in PSU's win over Wagner on 12/18/00. He posted a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double at N.C. State on 11/29/00 and hit for 15 points and grabbed eight boards in a Big Ten road win at Minnesota on 2/14/01.
During the Big Ten Tournament, Smith once again stepped up, hitting for six points and grabbing six rebounds in the Nittany Lions' 65-63 win over defending national champion Michigan State on 3/9/01. He also had three assists, a block and a steal in that game. In the NCAA Tournament, he combined for 13 points and 14 boards in three games.
1999-2000: Smith started 12 games for Penn State through the majority of the Big Ten season. His physical presence was a much needed defensive boost for the Nittany Lions. But, as is his style, when asked to return to the bench as a key reserve, he batted not an eye and his performance remained steady.
He averaged 2.9 points per game and 2.8 rebounds per contest throughout the season and showcased a deft outside touch, hitting 13 of 28 treys for 46.4%. Smith's most impressive game was a ten-point, five board game vs. Northwestern on Feb. 16. He was also key in a five point, eight rebound effort at Illinois in January. An outstanding student, Smith won the Penn State Academic Achievement Award for the second straight year (after sharing it with Dan Earl as a freshman) and was an Academic All-Big Ten pick. Smith earned Academic All-Big Ten honors as well.
1998-1999: Smith played in all 27 games for the Nittany Lions as a rookie. He was tossed into the fire early, playing for 17 minutes in his first collegiate game against VMI. He scored his first collegiate points in that contest. Just a week later, he posted a season-high five points and grabbed a season-high five rebounds in a win over Lehigh on Nov. 23, 1998. On the year, Smith shot 37% from the floor, but hit four of nine treys (44%). He averaged 1.0 points per game over the course of the season and 1.3 rebounds per contest.
High School: Smith was a three-year starter at Lake Forest High School and distinguished himself as one of the top players in school history. He was all-conference and all-county twice and the conference Rookie of the Year. A captain as a senior, he was also a Wendy's High School Heisman State Finalist and a three-time all-academic pick. In 1997, he helped guide LFHS to the most wins in school history and the sectional title game. In 1997, he took part in the Five Star All-Star Camp.
Smith is an ever improving player. For his first three Smith was a role player.
He has been forced to step up and be a leader for this young team, and he has thrived in that role. Though he is a late bloomer he has the potential to play professionally. He may get invited to some NBA freeagent camps, and might make it in the NBDL. But, he is definitely a pro pprospect and could play in the ABA, CBA, or internationally. Whoever signs Smith to a contract will get a player who is only going to get better and better.