Smith to be honored with Naismith Award

March 26, 1995|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Sun Staff Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Maryland sophomore Joe Smith today will be named winner of this season's Ban-Naismith Award as national college basketball Player of the Year.

Smith, a 6-foot-10 center, a first-team All-American and the Atlantic Coast Conference's Player of the Year, will be the first Terrapin to receive an award of this kind.

"It's a great honor," Smith said yesterday from his mother's home in Norfolk, Va. "I really worked hard this year to show that last year wasn't a fluke. It's a great accomplishment, an award that any player would love to have. I'll cherish it."

Said Maryland coach Gary Williams: "I think Joe has meant as much to our team as any other player has to theirs in the country. TTC You can't measure what just has done just by his points and rebounds, but by his presence and the confidence he gives the other players."

Smith, who averaged 20.9 points and 10.7 rebounds, beat out five other finalists: Arkansas forward Corliss Williamson, UCLA forward Ed O'Bannon, North Carolina center Rasheed Wallace, Michigan State guard Shawn Respert and Arizona guard Damon Stoudamire.

The announcement, which will be made on CBS-TV (Channel 13) today at 1:30 p.m., comes less than two weeks after Smith learned he no longer was a candidate for the John R. Wooden Award.

Smith was pulled from consideration for the Wooden Award, which is given by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, because of a clause that states all candidates must have a 2.0 grade-point average through the fall semester.

"After what happened with the Wooden Award, I'm sure there were some people who thought I wouldn't get the Naismith," said Smith. "Maybe some thought I wouldn't deserve it. But they must have thought different."

The Ban-Naismith Award will be given to Smith by the Atlanta Tipoff Club at a dinner in Atlanta on April 10. Smith, who received the most points in the Associated Press' All-America balloting, is one of the favorites to receive that organization's Player of the Year award Friday in Seattle, prior to the Final Four.

"Joe's as good as anybody in the country," said Williams. "The fact that he won this award against some of the same players he was going up against in the Wooden certainly shows how people feel about him."

Smith ended his sophomore season -- and possibly his Maryland career -- with a 22-point, 14-rebound performance in Thursday's 99-89 loss to Connecticut in the NCAA West Regional semifinals at the Oakland Coliseum.

"My hip's still a little sore, but I'm doing OK," said Smith, who took a hard fall in the first half after blocking a shot. "It's disappointing to lose, but we still had a great season."

Asked when he will decide whether to return for his junior year or apply for eligibility to the NBA, Smith said, "Probably not until late April or early May."

Smith, who turns 20 in late July, has until May 14 to make his decision. If he files for early eligibility, he will have 30 days after the June 28 draft to make his decision final.

NO ORDINARY JOE

A look at Joe Smith's 1994-95 season highlights:

* Led Maryland in scoring (20.9), field-goal percentage (.578), rebounding (10.7) and blocked shots (2.9).

* Scored 30 or more points five times, including a career-high 40 in a regular-season victory at Duke.

* Held to single-digit scoring just twice in 34 games.

* Had 17 games with double-digit scoring and rebounding totals.

* Had 15 or more rebounds eight times, including a career-high 21 twice, in a regular-season win over Virginia and an NCAA tournament victory over Texas.

L * Became first Terps sophomore to reach 1,000 career points.

* Became second Terps sophomore (Buck Williams was first) to reach 500 career rebounds.

* Became second Terp (Adrian Brian was first) to lead the team in scoring as a freshman and a sophomore.

* Became second Terp (Buck Williams was first) to lead the team in rebounding as a freshman and a sophomore.

* Named first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference and ACC Player of the Year.

* Named first-team All-American, receiving most votes in balloting by Associated Press.

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