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‘No chance’ Ray Smith returns to Arizona basketball

The former five-star recruit is at peace with his decision to retire

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Photo courtesy Arizona Athletics

Two years ago, former Arizona Wildcats forward Ray Smith decided to retire from basketball at the age of 19. He suffered three season-ending knee injuries in a 30-month span, ending his collegiate career before it ever got started.

Smith never appeared in a regular season game at Arizona.

But he did leave the door open to a return at the time of his retirement, saying he was “98 percent sure” his playing days were over.

Well, that door has been slammed shut. Now Smith is 100 percent sure he’s done.

Sunday, he was asked on Twitter if there is any possibility that he’d play basketball again, to which he said there’s “no chance.”

“If there was a chance, I’d be on,” he said. “... I appreciate all of the fans for STILL showing love two years later. However my decision was for me, and I am sticking with it.”

The 6-foot-8 Smith was a five-star recruit out of Las Vegas High School in 2015, and was projected to be an NBA talent.

So you can’t help but wonder how his career would have shaken out if he were healthy, but it’s good to see he is at peace with his decision to step away.

Even after retiring, Smith remained part of the Arizona program — he was a coach at Sean Miller’s basketball camp last summer, and traveled with the team to Spain for its exhibition tour — but his presence has gradually diminished as he’s shifted his focus toward obtaining his degree.

“It’s difficult to go to practice because it’s more important that he takes a class and doesn’t have to worry about blocking his schedule off between a certain period of time,” Miller said last August.

“Same thing with traveling. It doesn’t make sense for him to always travel because his No. 1 focus is to get his degree, and do the best that he can.”

A general studies major, Smith will be a senior at the UA next fall.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire or help support his work via Venmo.