'Going all the way in': Smith to leave NC State, enter draft

NC State sophomore Terquavion Smith, a projected first-round pick, will declare for the 2023 NBA draft, he told ESPN on Tuesday.

"I'm forgoing my college eligibility and going all the way in," Smith said. "I'm thankful for everything the NC State coaching staff and fans have done for me. This is the right decision for me to take care of my family."

Smith, the No. 30 prospect in the ESPN 100, was named to the All-ACC second team after leading NC State in scoring (17.9 points), assists (4.1) and steals (1.5). Smith finished as the second-leading scorer in the ACC as well as the second most prolific 3-point shooter with 91 makes on the season.

"I showed a lot of different things this year," Smith said. "Teams wanted to see me be more of a point guard, making the right play, making the right decisions. They wanted to see me improve my finishing, and I increased that. I showed I can be a leader."

Smith surprised many by withdrawing his name from the 2022 NBA draft after a strong showing at the NBA combine in Chicago last May, saying at the time that he "just wants one more season to get everything right and be a college student."

He says he accomplished his goals and is ready to pursue the next step in his career now.

"I improved my grades. I'm a year closer to getting my degree now. You only get one chance to be a college student and get that college vibe. There was no rush for me. I'm ready to contribute to an NBA team now."

Smith helped NC State rebound from a disappointing 4-16 last-place finish in the ACC last season to a 23-11 record that earned the team its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2018. The 6-foot-4 guard had two of his best games of the season in some of the most important moments his team faced, dropping 30 points on Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament to help lock up an at-large bid and then a 32-point effort in an opening-round loss to Creighton in the NCAA tournament.

"I'm feeling good about everything now," Smith said. "I came back to do what I needed to do. I feel like I did everything the right way. I know what's coming now in the pre-draft process because I've been there already and know what to expect. I'll be a lot more confident in myself now. It's going to be a straight grind."

Smith, 20, is intriguing to NBA teams with his combination of dynamic shot-making, ability to change speeds out of hesitation moves and explosiveness finishing around the rim. He puts consistent pressure on opposing defenses with his aggressive style, regularly rising up for contested 3-pointers from impressive vantage points.

The NBA combine will be held May 15-21 in Chicago, and the draft will be June 22 in Brooklyn.

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.