NC State freshman guard and Fayetteville, NC native Dennis Smith Jr stepped up to the podium of the ACC’s annual media day, stared down the reporters and spoke with more confidence and swagger than any other veteran player before or after him. He set an impressive tone with the first answer to a question about if he’s ready for what we’re going to see from his this year.
“There are no parts of me that think I’m not ready for anything, anything that comes at me in life. I’ve been through enough to face adversity, so I’m prepared for anything.”
And with that, Smith dropped the mic, chucked the deuces and walked off the podium…or at least he could’ve in my book.
With that one answer we got a glimpse into the self-assured world of Dennis Smith Jr. We got a glimpse of why Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried wasn’t afraid to say he’s the best guard in the country and why he was voted to the preseason All-ACC first team and ACC preseason rookie of the year – ahead of top Duke recruits and projected lottery picks Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles.
“It’s been exciting in practice to see not only is he very talented, Coach Gottfried told the media. He’s a phenomenal passer, he can score, he’s gotten bigger and stronger, but on top of all that, you’ve got a guy that’s got a competitive nature. A lot of good players compete hard, and then there’s another group of guys that they kind of have another level of wanting to win, and he shows that in practice every day. Kind of put all those things together, and it’s pretty exciting to watch.”
Smith, who picked NC State over Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky and Wake Forest, welcomes the pressure. He welcomes the spotlight. He wanted to be in a position to lead this team. He wanted to chance to be the star.
With the level of confidence he has, there will be no middle ground. Either Smith is going to come into the league like gangbusters and take college basketball by storm or the power of the ACC will humble him and make Mark Gottfried eat his words of praise. But that doesn’t matter to Smith he embraces the position he’s in.
“I never run from a challenge. I never back down from adversity.”
You can’t help but respect that.