NC State Basketball: Terquavion Smith adopts a new role

After a conversation with the Charlotte Hornets staff, Terracovion Smith decided he would return for his sophomore season at NC State.

The Wolfpack star, who entered his name on the NBA draft lineup and received positive feedback during last month’s draft in Chicago, worked with Hornets just three days before the June 1 deadline for players to pull their names off the draft and remain eligible to return to college basketball.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Smith did not go into detail about his conversations with the Hornets’ crew, but Wolfpack coach Kevin Keats offered some thoughts on Smith’s decision to return.

“He didn’t know he was 100% the first manager,” Keats told the media on Wednesday. “This is a kid with a lot of ego and he loves to compete. He wanted to be among the top 20 players.”

Coming off the Junior campaign where he finished second in the team in scoring, averaged 16.3 points per game, and was named to the entire ACC Junior team, the 6-foot-4 goalkeeper is looking to build on what he did last season.

NC State’s Tercovion Smith leads to the basket as Dallas Walton defends Wake Forest (13) during the first half of NC’s game against Wake Forest at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. Ethan Heyman

areas for improvement

There is no doubt that Smith could score at the college level. He was one of the best point shooters last season in the ACC. As the year progressed, the Grenfell native also demonstrated the ability to reach the basket.

At 169 pounds, the big question was whether his tire could handle 82 NBA games.

“I’ve really worked to be in the weight room this off season,” Smith said.

Smith – who started 25 games last season, firing 36.9% from a 3-point range – is hoping to play at £175-180 next season with Wolfpack. Keats joked that he wouldn’t be surprised if Smith was seen around town with four pizza boxes.

NC State coach Kevin Keats hugs Tercavion Smith after Keats finishes talking to the media in Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, June 15, 2022. Ethan Heyman

The teams also wanted to see Smith serve as head guard. He played mostly as a starting guard at Farmville Central High and shared facilitation duties with Derion Cebron late in the season a year ago.

“He was a freshman and had a great deal of freedom,” said Keats. “They (NBA teams) want to see him make better decisions with the ball in his hands.”

While Smith’s 67 assists last season were tied for second place, his 54 assists were the team’s third.

As he looks to improve, he views the criticism he received from scouts during the recruiting process as something that could help him grow.

“I love to learn,” Smith said. “Anytime I can learn and work on my game, that’s the easy thing.”

Becoming more than a leader

Smith was one of the most vocal leaders last season at Wolfpack.

As the returning NC State scorer and one of only three players to average double-digit minutes (31.6) last season, Keats expects Smith to be a leader and more vocal in his second season.

NC State’s Terquavion Smith (0) walks to the bench with Casey Morsell (14) and Jericole Hellems (4) after a timeout was called during a UNC 100-80 victory over NC State at Smith Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Saturday, January 29, 2022. Ethan Heyman

“He has no other choice,” Keats said. “He’s locked in and he’s going to be the leader. So he’s challenged him, not basketball, to become more of a leader. He may appear like a shy kid, but he’s growing and getting better.”

Smith said he’d rather be a role model — the first one at the gym and the last one to leave. But he knew that a more vocal role would likely await him if he returned. That’s why, even when he was testing the waters of the NBA, he was watching the Wolfpack rebuild from afar.

“I kept in touch with the guys even when I wasn’t here,” Smith said. “It was fun for me knowing we were going to have a new team, different players, new connections and a fresh start.”

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Sports journalist Jonas Pope IV has covered college hiring, high school sports, NC Central, NC State and ACC for The Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.