Dylan Smith is ready for high-major college basketball.
After a season at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Smith is transferring to the University of Arizona and joining the traditional power in the college basketball world.
A star on Hoover High School’s 2015 Class 7A state championship basketball team, Smith scored 17 overtime points in the Bucs’ semifinal game against Lee-Montgomery and helped the team to a win over Mountain Brook to capture the school’s first title.
“I wanted to win a state championship before I graduated,” Smith said. “We said all year it was title or bust, and we proved ourselves right.”
He then took his talents to UNC Asheville, where he starred as a freshman in 2015-16. Smith led the Bulldogs with 13.5 points per game, starting the final 18 games of the season. UNC Asheville won the Big South Conference Tournament to seal a spot in the NCAA Tournament and took on eventual national champion Villanova in the first round.
“We were in the game until they went on a run,” Smith said of the game against the Wildcats. “They were veteran players, knew the game well and moved the ball well.”
Despite the 86-56 loss, Smith led the team with 14 points, but he said the game brought him to a realization.
“I just felt like during the season I could go play high-major,” he said.
Smith spoke highly of the Bulldogs and his season there, and he said he used the opportunity to “prove the doubters wrong” — something he has been doing his whole life.
“I had a lot to prove growing up, being small and people saying I couldn’t play,” Smith said. “I have played with a chip on my shoulder all the time since I picked up a ball when I was 12.”
Smith will have to sit out the 2016-17 year due to NCAA transfer rules, but he said he will use the time to get better.
“Getting stronger and taking contact going to the rim. Skill-wise, I’m ready for that level, and I proved it,” he said.
He chose Arizona over the likes of Oregon, Texas A&M, Butler and others.