Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 | noon
Reggie Smith Pre-Scrimmage Dunk
Reggie Smith AAU Dunks
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When I saw Reggie Smith's listed height on Marquette's official athletics website last winter while UNLV was recruiting the freshman transfer guard, I couldn't help but give a bit of a sarcastic grin.
This came after I'd first met Reggie, which was while he was on his official visit to campus in January before a Mountain West Conference game against TCU.
The reaction came because Smith was listed at 6-foot, which is the same height he's listed at by UNLV. In reality? He's somewhere around my height, making him about 5-foot-10.
A school marking a kid up an inch or two is nothing new. Everyone does it. But what it does now is make his aerial display leading into Sunday night's Scarlet and Gray scrimmage at the Thomas & Mack Center that much more impressive.
The players took part in an impromptu dunk contest while going through layup lines, and no one drew a bigger reaction from the crowd than Smith. Especially on his last dunk.
I'll admit: I wasn't watching when the last one played out. I was writing something in my notebook as the crowd of about 4,000 exploded, then I looked up to see Smith being swarmed by his teammates. Thanks to YouTube a few hours later, I saw what they were going wild about. It's linked above here in this story.
Off the bounce, through the legs, clean and strong one-handed finish. A dunk that 90 percent of players six or seven inches taller than Smith would struggle with.
For a guy who is just under 6-feet tall, what Smith can do above the rim is almost impossible to explain. When UNLV was recruiting the Chicago native a year ago, having never seen him play before, I called up a long-time friend who is a die-hard Marquette fan. He told me that Smith is an elite-level athlete, but he was unsure about him as a basketball player. He added that he thought Smith should take up football and become a star as a cornerback, which is where you'll typically find the most well-rounded athletes on the gridiron.
Yes, Smith's game still needs some work, but Dave Rice landing the head coaching gig at UNLV last April could prove to be an absolute blessing for Smith, whose speed and hops will at times help cover up the developing areas of his game in an uptempo system, such as his jumper and his tendency to sometimes have trouble harnessing that speed in the flow of the game.
Therefore, while the dunks on Sunday night were nice and all, I thought that his most important accomplishments came during the scrimmage itself. He scored 10 points, including hitting his first two 3-point attempts of the evening. Smith also showed off a lightning-quick first step that helped him break down defenders in an instant and get to the basket before those around him could even react. At first glance, you can picture him fitting into Rice's offense much in the same way that Michael Loyd Jr. — a Las Vegas native — did at BYU a couple of years ago, emerging as a valuable spark off of the bench.
So store that part of the night away and re-visit it come December, when Smith will become eligible just in time for UNLV's trip to face Illinois in his hometown at the United Center.
For now, well, yeah, just replay that dunk a time or two for good measure.