NCAA Basketball: Dennis Smith Jr. Explains How ACL Injury Benefitted Him
North Carolina State University point guard Dennis Smith Jr. believes his ACL injury in 2015 was actually helpful to his deveopment.
The high school superstar tore the ACL in his left knee during a semifinal game at the Adidas Nations in August of the previous year. According to a report by SBNation.com, he immediately underwent surgery for the injury, which was deemed as a success.
More than a year since he was sidelined by a major setback, the 19-year-old hotshot has been working his way back into the mix. According to a report by C.L Brown of ESPN.com, Smith is currently fifth in the NCAA's Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), averaging 18.5 points per game. He is also ranked fourth in assists, averaging 5.4 per game. During the pre-season, he was also named ACC Rookie of the Year.
Many athletes would be demoralized by such a setback. But for Smith, it was actually "one of the best things that happened to him" before he entered college. As noted by Brown's report, Smith had a conversation with his father after a visit to the doctor, when he broached the idea of graduating early to make it in time for the January enrollment at NC State.
He then went up to Wolfpack head coach Mark Gottfried, who was immediately receptive of the idea. If anything, Smith would be under the supervision of the team's doctors when he went through further rehabilitation.
According to Gottfried, Smith was present during the Wolfpack's games, which included pre-game and post-game talks during huddles. This, for him, had helped Smith for smooth transition into the team.
"He's a lot more comfortable now. Even though he didn't play in the ACC, he went through a season watching, and so I think that's been a big plus for him," Gottfried said of his player.
Smith himself also believes his early entry into the team greatly helped him. It was all connected to the injury that helped him reach that decision.
"A big part was being in the locker room with guys seeing how to interact with Coach that nobody else got to see. Regardless of who you are, you don't see that, and I got to see that last year firsthand. It gives you a slight edge," Smith said.
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