Maryland's Smith hits for two

March 15, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The remarkable legend of Joe Smith grew even larger yesterday.

In a matter of hours, the 6-foot-10 Maryland center was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's Player of the Year as well as a first-team All-American by the Associated Press.

Smith became only the third Terrapin and third sophomore in ACC history to be named the Player of the Year, following two-time winner Len Bias (1985, 1986) and Albert King (1981) in the first category, as well as Ralph Sampson (1981) and David Thompson (1973) in the second.

In one of the most one-sided votes in ACC history, Smith drew 84 of 106 possible votes. The next closest vote-getter was Wake Forest senior guard Randolph Childress, who had 13. North Carolina sophomore forward Jerry Stackhouse finished third with seven, and sophomore centers Tim Duncan of Wake Forest and Rasheed Wallace of North Carolina each received one.

"That was one of my individual goals, being ACC Player of the Year," said Smith, who led the league in scoring (20.8) and finished second in rebounding (10.4) and blocked shots (2.9) and third in field-goal percentage (58.0). "It's a great honor."

Asked about the one-sided nature of the voting by the Atlantic Coast Sports Writers Association, Smith smiled. "I was very surprised," he said. "There are so many great players in the ACC."

Smith also was the highest vote-getter on this year's AP All-America team, finishing slightly ahead of UCLA's Ed O'Bannon and Michigan State's Shawn Respert. Arizona's Damon Stoudamire and North Carolina's Stackhouse also were named first team.

Smith is Maryland's first first-team All-American since 1986, and could become its first national Player of the Year. The AP Player of the Year will come down to Smith, O'Bannon and Respert. Smith also is a finalist for the Ban-Naismith and U.S. Basketball Writers player of the year awards.

Yesterday's news takes away some of the disappointment Smith felt last week when he learned his nomination for the John R. Wooden Award had to be withdrawn because university officials couldn't confirm whether Smith had attained a 2.0 grade-point average through the fall semester.

Maryland coach Gary Williams said that Smith's winning ACC Player of the Year was "a tremendous accomplishment when you consider guys like Childress, Duncan, Stackhouse and Wallace.

For Joe to win, I think the people who voted appreciate his defense and his rebounding as much as his scoring."

Smith hopes to add to his legend when the NCAA tournament begins for Maryland, the No. 3 seed in the West Regional, tomorrow night against Gonzaga at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City.

"I was very nervous going into the NCAA tournament last year," said Smith, who wound up hitting his first seven shots en route to a 29-point, 15-rebound performance against Saint Louis. "It was Maryland's first NCAA tournament in six years and my first NCAA tournament game. I came out focused."

The challenge this time will be different. Smith will be one of the featured players in the tournament and there likely will be much talk about a possible showdown with UCLA's O'Bannon in the West Regional final in Oakland, Calif., a week from Saturday.

Asked whether the fans at the University of Utah have heard of him, Smith flashed his familiar smile. "I think so, because of the game we played against them in Hawaii," Smith said of a 33-point game against the Utes in the semifinals of the season-opening Maui Invitational.

The only goal Smith has left this season is not being named AP Player of the Year in Seattle, the day before the national semifinals at the Kingdome. It is to be playing through to

the final the following Monday night.

A year after helping the Terps reach the Sweet 16, Smith is clearly thinking of bigger things.

6* "The national championship," he said.

HEAD OF THE CLASS

Joe Smith (left) topped the voting from a national media panel for the 1994-95 Associated Press All-America first team:

Pos., Player ......... Class .. Pts.

C Joe Smith, .......... So. ... 313

Maryland

F Ed O'Bannon, ........ Sr. ... 311

UCLA

G Shawn Respert, ...... Sr. ... 309

Michigan State

G Damon Stoudamire, ... Sr. ... 241

Arizona

4F Jerry Stackhouse, .. So..... 235

North Carolina

' (All-America teams, 4C)

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