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Arizona basketball: What Ray Smith’s retirement means

After his third ACL tear, the 19-year-old Arizona star is forced to retire

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Arizona v Wichita State Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Sad news recently came out of the college basketball world when Ray Smith of the Arizona Wildcats announced his retirement from basketball at the tender age of 19. In an exhibition game against College of Idaho, Smith tore his right ACL to end his season and his basketball career in one fell swoop. It is a heartbreaking end to a basketball journey that once showed tremendous possibility.

Third Straight Year with an ACL Tear for Smith

Smith was one of the top high school players in the nation when he tore his left ACL in July 2014 at the Adidas Unrivaled basketball camp. Even with the torn ACL, Arizona was glad to have Smith sign with them two days after the injury. According to the RSCI rankings, Smith was the 18th-ranked player in the 2015 recruiting class.

After working hard to rehab his first ACL tear, Smith was cleared to return to practice in October 2014. Before the season could even begin, Smith tore his right ACL in practice. This was a devastating blow for Smith and the Arizona program. He had to begin the long process of rehabbing an ACL tear almost immediately after finishing his first ACL tear rehab.

After going through two ACL tears, surgeries and rehabs, you would have thought the young man had been through enough. However, it just seems like Smith was not meant to play college basketball. Before the regular season could begin this year, Smith blew out his right ACL for the second-straight year. That is three ACL tears within the last 30 months for Smith, which seems incredibly unfair for someone who is two years away from legal drinking age.

NBA Talent Forced to Retire

Perhaps the most unfortunate part about Smith’s forced retirement due to injury is that he truly was a player who had a great shot to make it at the next level. In fact, Draft Express had Smith listed as the No. 18 pick in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-8 small forward from Las Vegas has the kind of length and athleticism that gets scouts drooling, but all the talent in the world isn’t enough when a young man cannot seem to avoid getting bitten by the injury bug.

Not Going Anywhere

Even though Smith is not going to play basketball any more, he will still be attending school at the University of Arizona and working with the basketball program. His dreams of playing in the NBA are now over, but Smith’s basketball talent did make it possible for him to get a college education that is fully paid for with his scholarship. He could also learn a lot from Arizona coach Sean Miller. Perhaps he will end up finding a career in the coaching world.

You cannot blame Smith for retiring after so many ACL tears in such a short time. Very few players can come back from so many tears, and those that do usually end up tearing their ACL for a fourth time and retiring anyway. Hopefully, he will have good luck going forward and find success along another path.