The question seemed simple enough. It also cut to the heart on why Joshua Smith faces such an uncertain NBA future.
What similarities and differences during his time at UCLA and Georgetown did Smith see that contributed to such inconsistency? Smith did not bother sugarcoating it.
“At UCLA, my freshman year went well,” Smith said on Tuesday after working out with the Lakers at their practice facility in El Segundo. “After that, I thought I could turn it on and not put the work in.”
Smith turned out wrong.
Once considered an NBA prospect after landing on the All Pac-10 freshman team, Smith struggled with both his weight and production. After averaging only 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds through six games in 13.5 minutes, Smith soon transferred to Georgetown. His problems followed him on the East Coast.
“At Georgetown, it was the same thing. I got there and got comfortable,” Smith said. “I became academically ineligible. I was realy embarrassed. I was embarrassed for myself and for my family. I’m not a dumb guy. I just didn’t go to class. My senior year, I just wanted to go out and compete and leave it all out there.”
Smith averaged 11.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in the 2013-14 season with the Hoyas, and 10.8 points and 5.8 rebounds the following season. He relished learning the Hoyas’ Princeton-based offense under John Thompson III, something he believes will translate with the Lakers since Byron Scott runs a similar offense. Smith also touted how he makes his teammates better, his 6-foot-10, 350-pound frame and his post defense.
But Smith sounded aware he still has to prove to NBA teams that he has a strong work ethic.
“I know the stigma about me. My thing about me is I’m trying to change it,” said Smith, who also worked out with the Dallas Mavericks. “I know in my college career that I was lazy. They ask, ‘Is he hungry and does he really want it?’ What I’m trying to do now is progress every day, work hard and change that stigma.”