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Arizona basketball: Ray Smith “won't close the door” to a return

Smith says he’s “98 percent sure” he’s going to step away from the game

Chris Coduto-Getty Images

Ray Smith‘s career at Arizona ended before it ever started.

The former five-star recruit from Las Vegas suffered two ACL tears in his first two years with the Wildcats, preventing him from ever stepping foot on the McKale Center court in a meaningful game.

Smith’s latest knee injury — his third in total — happened in Arizona’s very first exhibition game this season against the College of Idaho.

Two days later, the 6-foot-8 forward announced his retirement. The 19-year-old’s body said it was time.

“My run in basketball has been great,” Smith wrote. “My father once told me that just because someone is ago basketball player doesn’t make them a good person. That the sport doesn’t define who we are only what we can do. I love the game of basketball but I have decided to step away from the game for good."

But has he really? A year from now when he has recovered and the Wildcats are gearing up for another season, will the 19-year-old really have no inkling to give it one more go?

Apparently, there’s a chance he might. A two-percent chance.

"98 percent sure, I'd say," Smith told ESPN’s Dana O’Neil about his plans to retire.

But, barring something drastic, Smith has played in his last game, and his career has come to a close at age 19.

He can live with it.

"I'll miss basketball a lot. But everyone's career eventually ends. Mine just ended a little sooner than everyone else. Basketball doesn't define who I am. I'm not sure exactly who that is yet. I know I'll figure it out,” Smith told ESPN. "I'm not bitter because now I just know I'll just put my time and sleepless nights and effort into something else.”

Broadcasting, perhaps?

Check out ESPN’s full feature on Ray Smith’s retirement here. It’s well worth the read.