Throughout the entire summer, we’ve covered UCLA basketball as best as we can. And, as a result, we’re as excited as anyone was when the four highly-touted freshmen — Jordan Adams, Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad — all signed their Letter of Intents as soon as humanly possible, sort of.
But we’ve been doing a lot of bitching around these parts, mainly about oft-maligned center Josh Smith, who seemed to give less of a crap about basketball than your typical, hardcore MLB fan. The dude was out of shape and … well, you can read the narratives regarding Smith here. And here. And, uh, here.
Of course, Smith is thisclose to shoving all this talk about being lazy and unmotivated right up our asses. From ESPN:
Smith, a junior, said he has lost at least 15 pounds since the end of last season. He is consulting a nutritionist, spending more time in the gym and the results were evident during a summer workout Tuesday, when he ran up and down the court for nearly an hour without showing much fatigue. It was a far cry from last season when he routinely lumbered around out of breath and had a mostly forgettable season.
Smith is getting into shape now, and considering that our boy Josh is easily one of the most offensively-polished big men in college basketball, this is freaking scary.
Not for us, here in Westwood. Not for the crap-ass Pac-12. No, Josh Smith’s fitness will put the entire nation on notice that UCLA, after four very long years, is back on the map.
Because no one can stop a motivated Josh Smith. The dude utilizes every ounce of his strength to get low-post position and uses every inch of his basketball savvy to make sweet moves around the rim. Low-post players are disappearing in today’s basketball landscape — both at the college level and in the NBA — and Smith is one of the few who can dominate in the paint. Even Anthony Davis, someone we compare Smith to, doesn’t have the low-post game that Smith has (or can have).
Last year was a joke, and Josh Smith was the butt of it. But then you hear Josh say something like this:
“I couldn’t really take anything positive from last year,” Smith said. “I want to get to the point where it’s not, ‘Oh if Josh was in shape’ or ‘If Josh was this.’ I just want to be able to run up and down and give my team 29 or 30 minutes on the floor where I’m actually producing, not just 19 minutes where I play in spurts and try to stay out of foul trouble.”
… that’s when you should be worried, if you aren’t a UCLA fan. Because Smith will destroy you inside, and if he continues his improvement, plays for those 30 minutes, and has perimeter players like Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams scoring at ease with a point forward like Kyle Anderson making things easy and tearing apart defenses at every level?
Then you should be shitting yourself.
Keep it up, Josh Smith. Make us eat our words.