May 10, 2013

Tulane hoops signee Ryan Smith excited about fuure

Frustrated by a knee injury that sidelined him for the final nine games of his senior year, Wildomar Cal Lutheran center Ryan Smith still found a way to turn the pain into a positive. He practiced a left-handed hook shot that he plans to debut at Tulane next season.

"I was really mad, but I worked on that shot four about eight to 10 weeks and nothing but that," he said. "It was a good thing."

Smith, a 6-foot-11, 238-pound prospect who committed to Tulane early this week and signed Thursday, is laid back off the court but very aggressive on it. He averaged 16.4 points, 12.3 rebounds and 5.3 blocks before getting hurt, prompting Cal Lutheran coach Dave Peter to say he "was 20 times better" than as a junior.

The difference was his commitment. After Peter convinced him to give up football before his senior year, he became hyper focused on improving his basketball skills and mobility in the offseason.

"I got out and played basketball basically every day," he said. "I got into a bunch of cross fitness and jumping programs over the summer. That helped me get more athletic."

The hard work paid off, earning him plenty of interest from recruiters despite playing in California's Southern Section's smallest classification. Colorado State, which finished second in the tough Mountain West Conference and won a game in the NCAA Tournament this past March, was recruiting him hard before he chose Tulane.

"I like the coaches, they are fun," he said. "My decision was just basically between Colorado State and Tulane, and I liked everything about Tulane on my visit. The basketball program is about to take off."

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