Fellow ACC point guards give advice to NC State freshman Dennis Smith Jr.

Some of the top players in the conference offer advice to freshman phenom ahead of the season

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Dennis Smith

RALEIGH — In the era of one-and-dones in college basketball, very few point guards have made the immediate jump to the NBA. While players like Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Derrick Rose have made the transition look seamless, not all floor generals have made it look quite as easy.This year, NC State is putting it’s faith in Dennis Smith Jr. to lead the charge for a team expected to make waves in the ACC. While the supporting cast is there with Abdul-Malik Abu, Maverick Rowan, a healthy Terry Henderson and eventually fellow freshman Omer Yurtseven, becoming a star as a freshman is easier said than done.”It’s not high school anymore,” Florida State junior point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes said. “You’re going against high-profile scouting reports. I know the in-depth scouting reports we have on certain players allow us to know their tendencies, where you like to score, how many times you’re going to go a certain way and we’re going to force all your weaknesses.”Don’t think that you know everything.”Jaron Blossomgame has a slightly better scouting report on Smith than other players in the ACC after playing with him at Adidas Nations in late July. Both players were on Team Wizards along with local products like Maverick Rowan, Abdul-Malik Abu, Justin Jackson and Chase Jeter.Getting a chance to play with Smith frequently — both are projected first-round picks in the 2017 NBA Draft — Blossomgame said he constantly offered advice to him about what to expect at this level. As for what NC State fans should expect, Blossomgame didn’t hold back when referring to the incoming freshman.”He’s a very, very good player, just a special kid,” Blossomgame said. “He’s very talented. He affects the game in so many ways. He’s not only a scorer or a driver. He can defend, get steals and he’s always active. I love him. He’s a really good player and was really fun to play with this summer.”London Perrantes, a rising senior point guard for Virginia, has gone from averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 assists as a freshman to 11 points and 4.4 assists last season. Perrantes was only a 3-star prospect coming out of high school, but has clearly learned how to assert his will in the ACC.When asked for his advice, Perrantes was initially reluctant before spitting some truths about leading as a young player.”I don’t know if I want to give that dude any advice,” Perrantes said before bursting out in laughter. “But seriously, every night out you’re playing against the best of the best. Just being mentally prepared as well as physically prepared is huge. … You’ve also got to have your team right there along with you that same mentality.”Perrantes joked about it, but Joel Berry actually didn’t want to discuss Smith in length. Having Smith on the other side along with Grayson Allen and Frank Jackson at Duke to defend, Berry admitted this year will be different in the Triangle.”It’s going to very exciting,” Berry said of playing Smith. “Now that we have Seventh [Woods], I think that it’s going to be pretty exciting. … I’ve seen the highlight plays that he’s had, so I know he’s very athletic. I’m excited to see what he does.”As for his own personal expectations, Smith didn’t want to delve too much into that discussion. Mock drafts from NBADraft.net and DraftExpress already have him listed as high as No. 2 for next year while the media voted him Preseason All-ACC First Team and Freshman of the Year.Instead, he opted to talk about what NC State fans should expect from the team. And while he might just be a freshman, he believes his leadership and play on the court should have the Wolfpack in the thick of the ACC discussion when the season gets underway.”It’s been done before at State dating back to ’74 and ’83 or even two years ago when they went to the Sweet 16,” Smith said. “It’s about winning. You didn’t see a lot of that last year. Winning was scarce last year, but I think you’re going to see a lot of that with the basketball we’re trying to play. I think we’re going to have a lot of wins this season.”