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There are a lot of names that have come from Texas Tech Men’s Basketball. Big names such as Jarret Culver, Andre Emmet, and Davide Moretti just to name a few. But perhaps one of the greats names on that list is former Red Raider Zhaire Smith. While he may have been a Texas Tech Red Raider, Smith has a long history of basketball before and after his time in Lubbock, Texas.
High School Career
Prior to attending Texas Tech Smith grew up in Garland, Texas in the Metroplex area. Born June 4th, 1999 Zhaire always excelled in athletics which is where he got his start. He began his high school career in Lakeview Centennial High School. As a starter, he averaged 20.1 points per game, 6.6 rebounds, and 3 assists in his senior year campaign. Earning his minutes on the floor. With great coaching by J.T. Locklear and hard work Smith was able to earn a three-star ranking. And was voted to be the best dunker in the DFW region to add onto his personal resume.
Zhaire also had multiple offers in his senior season with Pac 12, Big 12, and SEC Conferences. Being a highly sought-after recruit and leaving his high school with District 10-6A MVP. He was set to leave Garland, Texas with a bright future ahead of him.
Time at Texas Tech
Almost immediately when Zhaire arrived at Texas Tech he began making an impact. Smith’s impact was not shadowed as the 6’5″ 195 pounds weight guard played 37 games as a freshman for the Red Raiders. In his college career, Smith’s game was never short of exceptional.
In his freshman year season with the Red Raiders he helped the team on either side of the ball. From both shooting and elite defense. Averaging just over 11.0 pts with 11.3 pts, 5.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 blk, and 1-1 stl per game to go with he did everything needed for the Red Raiders. The 11.0 points along with the 5.0 rpg then the other three big players for the Red Raiders was vital for the success of the team. In combination with his athletic ability and his size Zhaire at the college level at his position was a threat from everywhere on the court. Playing multiple positions at both point and shooting guard he blended well with other key players. Such as Keenan Evans and Jarret Culver.
Racking up 417 points at the young age of 18 Zhaire was a phenom. As he set the a team record for points scored as a freshman. To complement his points his 11.3 pts per game was the second most on the team for the team and fifth among all Big 12 Freshmen. Compiling 185 rpg, 42 blk and 42 stl per game Smith led the team in each category.
On top of being superb on the offensive side of the floor, Smith was an excellent on the defensive end as well. With 42 blk on the season he was a force to be reckoned with earning his minutes on the court.
Stand Out Game
In arguably one of his best games, Smith, against conference rival Iowa State in the regular season posted a career high 21 pts complimented by 8 rebounds, 3 stl and two ast. On top of many outstanding performances the Red Raiders on the season were 19-8 when Zhaire would have double digit games.
Perhaps the greatest part of his career Smith and the Red Raiders made a deep run in their season in March Madness. In their deep run the team first faced off against Stephen F. Austin who they would handle 70-60. Then in their second game would edge out Florida 69-66 to advance to the sweet 16. After two wins and the momentum on their side the Zhaire Smith and the Red Raiders would then take on highly ranked Purdue. In the matchup Texas Tech would fight hard to come out on top to win 78-85 to advance to the Elite 8.
Then in their last game of the season the Red Raiders in the Elite 8 making Texas Tech Sports history the team would face off against Villanova. After a hard fought 40 minuets the Red Raiders and Zhaire Smith would come up short falling 59-71. Ending a long season many Red Raiders including Zhaire Smith with would turn their attention towards the NBA Draft.
After a historical run at Texas Tech that will go down in college sports history, Smith then declared for the NBA Draft. Zhaire Smith was picked in the first round of the draft as the 16th overall pick on June 21, 2018. One of the only Red Raiders to go in the first round. He was picked by the Phoenix Suns as a first round pick. Then he was traded moments later to the Philadelphia 76ers where he would later sign. Smith also find himself as the third highest draft pick ever for the Red Raiders. Behind Tony Battie in 1997 as the fifth overall pick and Jarret Culver who was the sixth overall pick in 2019.
Now signed on a NBA team on July 2nd Smith would stay healthy a little over a month.
Only weeks after entering the NBA and training in the Philadelphia 76ers summer development camp he would acquire an injury that would slow his sports journey. He fractured his foot which required surgery. Then again less the a month later after an early injury slowing down his progress in his career he would face another health issue. This time Zhaire Smith would require a thoracoscopy from eating sesame.
While not being able to play in the NBA league because of health issues. Smith would then turn his attention towards the g league. While his eventual goal is to return to the sixers as NBA rookie he would first have to take a detour to further his career.
The first-round pick would then begin to play in g league regular season with Delaware Blue Coats. He would then make his g league debut in the as a player against the Maine Red Claws. Zhaire Smith the would average 7.2 points, 3 rebounds, 1.5 ast in 11 games. While having zero blk he would look to add that back into his stat column.
With 11 contests played in the g league and performing well Smith would then get his chance as a player in the for the 76ers making big news. His debut took place March 25, 2019 and would place against the Orlando Magic in the regular season. In the game the 76ers would go onto lose. With Smith contributing by being a crucial player adding 3 points, 1 stl and a single rebound for the 76ers.
At the end of the regular season with the 76ers the team would make the NBA playoffs. He would end his first season in the league averaging 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.7 ast and played 18.5 minutes in the six games he played. As apart of the sixers he would play in two games in the playoffs where he would have limited playing time. With low stats with 2.2 rebounds and no blocks Smith would look to improve. He then would look to re sign and further his career with the team but would not have the opportunity to do so.
G League Continued…
While having personal issues with health Smith would then at the end of the season suffer from an allergic reaction. As a result he would then be traded to the Detroit Pistons for Tony Bradley on November 23, 2020. Now apart of the Pistons roster Smith would do his best to improve on both offense and defense. Unfortunately then only a week later he would we released from team on November 30, 2020. With a bad month of November, Smith would then look to turn his luck around.
As a young player only born in 1999 a little over two weeks later would be signed on by the Memphis Grizzly. Then again with would be cut and now plays for the Memphis Hustle.
Currently Smith is listed on Memphis Hustle and has not been in the news of a late. With June now in the rear view mirror lookout for Smith to try and participate in a summer league as he continues his career. Hopefully, he will try to gain more weight and improve on his shooting. While looking to return to the point he once was at. Look for Smith to turn the page this off season. As he will come back healthy and look to improve being a defensive player.
He will also look to improve his offensive game as well. With being younger in age and playing minimal minutes per game. Smith will look to improve improve his apg, blocks and things in that manner. He will be training to set himself apart from other skilled players in order to increase his number of minutes per game.
Smith also has a following on social media as well. With media outlets such as instagram and twitter he has been verified on both. With 50k followers on instagram and 22k on twitter he has kept a following on the site/apps.
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Written by Campus Live Employee Trinity Porter