Future Watch: Zhaire Smith Rookie Basketball Cards, 76ers – Zhaire Smith began his prep career at Lakeview Centennial High School in his hometown of Garland, Texas. In his senior season, he averaged 20.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He would earn District 10-6A MVP honors and was voted best dunker in the Dallas region. The three-star recruit would turn down offers from Arkansas, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Memphis, Oregon and the University of Texas in favor of Texas Tech.
In his freshman season with the Red Raiders, Smith averaged 11.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. The 6’4” shooting guard was an honorable mention Big-12 selection and was named to the 2018 Big-12 All-Defensive team. Smith caught the eyes of scouts around the country during the 2018 NCAA Tournament when he helped lead Texas Tech to the Elite Eight. In the first round, he would throw down an impressive 360 dunk that landed on many highlight reels.
In the second round, Smith scored 18 points with nine rebounds and seven assists in a 69-66 victory over Florida. Texas Tech would lose their Elite Eight matchup to Villanova who would go on to win the tournament. Shortly after the season, Smith would declare himself eligible for the 2018 draft but did not initially hire an agent. He would eventually sign with Roc Nation Sports, ending his collegiate eligibility.
Check out Zhaire Smith’s 360 alley-oop dunk from the 2018 NCCA Tournament
On draft night, the Phoenix Suns selected Zhaire Smith with the sixteenth overall pick. He was traded later that night to Philadelphia in exchange for Mikal Bridges. After signing with the 76ers, Smith would join the team’s summer development camp. On August 6th, he fractured his foot and required surgery. His surgery was successful, but a month later he would suffer a severe allergic reaction from food served at the 76ers practice facility.
Smith’s allergic reaction was incredibly frightening. He would spend the next few months bedridden in the hospital and required constant observation and various feeding tubes. With the help of his mother and stepfather, Smith slowly worked his way back to health. He would visit the 76ers training facility early in the morning with his stepfather to get shots up before the rest of the team arrived. Smith would shoot in a bathrobe with tubes still hanging out of his body. When he wasn’t in the gym, he was watching 76ers game film and providing coach Brett Brown with some informal scouting. Despite his ailment, Smith’s passion for the game would not recede.
Read more about Zhaire Smith’s Allergic Reaction that almost killed him in this article from GQ.
On March 1st, Smith returned to action with the Delaware Blue Coats of the G-League. He would make 11 appearances for the Blue Coats and averaged 7.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists. On March 25th, Smith would make his NBA debut against the Orlando Magic. In the game he sank his first shot attempt, a three-pointer. He would earn minutes in each of Philadelphia’s final six games of the season. In the regular season finale, he played 32 minutes and scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shots from the floor. He also added four rebounds and five assists to his stat line that night.
Philadelphia is currently locked into a second-round battle with the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Through nine games, Zhaire Smith has seen the floor twice for a maximum of four minutes. Unless there’s an injury to one or more of Philadelphia’s starting five, Smith won’t see much action these playoffs. This shouldn’t be seen as a detriment, as Smith is certainly soaking in as much knowledge as he can from veterans JJ Reddick and Jimmy Butler.
A lot can happen this offseason for the 76ers. If they make a run to the Finals they could bring Butler and Tobias Harris back in free agency for another run at the title. Or if they lose to Toronto in the second round and see Butler/Harris leave for other teams. In either scenario, Zhaire Smith is a key piece for a 76ers organization that needs talent to produce on cheap rookie contracts. After a productive summer of training, Smith could take a big leap forward next season and carve out a place in Philadelphia’s rotation.
Look for Zhaire Smith in his Texas Tech Red Raiders uniform in 2018 Panini Contenders Draft Picks Collegiate Basketball. As a first-round pick, collectors can find Zhaire Smith’s cards among Panini’s entire run of 2018-19 NBA Basketball products. Look for him in Cornerstones, Impeccable, Dominion, Revolution, Certified and many more!
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