While the Arizona Wildcats look continue their winning streak and stay atop the Pac-12 Conference, freshman Ray Smith, who tore his ACL in October, continues on the road to recovery.
His knee injury has obviously limited what he can and can't do on the court, but there is one thing that it does it allow for -- getting stronger. And Smith has taken advantage.
"This year has just been all lifting," Smith said at a press conference* on Tuesday. "[Chris] Rounds (the Associate Director of Performance Enhancement) does an amazing job and I’ve taken it upon myself to just try to get as big as I can physically and it’s helped me a lot."
"I believe that everything happens for a reason and of course when it first happened, I was down," he continued. "But it’s really helped me to better my strengths and focus on my weaknesses. My weakness was that I wasn’t physically gifted as far as being strong."
When Smith got to Tucson in July, he weighed 205 pounds. Now, the 6-foot-8 forward clocks in at 220 pounds.
"I want to get to about 225, five percent body fat," he said. "Right now I’m trying to get ten more [pounds] and then as the summer goes, start to cut off this body fat that I have right now."
Of course, this is Smith's second ACL tear in three years. He tore his left ACL in his junior year in high school, and this time around it was his right ACL.
"I think it’s just that I may have grown too fast or something," he speculated about the cause of the injuries. "You never know. With stuff like this there’s just so many different things that could affect it. And going into my sophomore year I grew six inches in a short amount of time so that could be one thing. And without the strength, things start to give out."
With this being Smith's second go-around on the recovery trail, the rehabilitation process is already familiar to him.
"This time is actually easier because I went through the other one," he said. "I know what I can do and can’t do. I know how hard to push, how hard not to push, and I kind of got through this one a little bit easier."