Arizona’s Ray Smith tears ACL for third straight year, retires from basketball

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The most heartbreaking college basketball news of the year comes from Arizona, where redshirt freshman forward Ray Smith announced his retirement from the game after tearing his ACL for the third time in three years earlier this week.

Arizona was playing its season opening exhibition against College of Idaho when Smith suffered the injury in the second half. When another torn ACL was confirmed on Thursday, Smith announced his retirement:

Smith tore his left ACL for the first time in July 2014 at Adidas Unrivaled. He committed to Arizona two days later. Smith was considered a 5-star recruit and was ranked No. 18 overall in the class of 2015 according to the RSCI.

Smith worked his way back onto the court by October when catastrophe struck again. He tore the ACL in his right knee, this time in practice, and was sidelined for the season. This is what Arizona coach Sean Miller had to say after the injury.

“Ray Smith is one of the most talented players young players that has ever entered our program,” Miller said in a statement. “The news of his injury is incredibly disappointing on several levels.”

Smith was projected as a first-round NBA pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress when he suffered his third torn ACL this week. The 6’8 combo forward was known for his athleticism and had hoped to make an impact on an Arizona team that ranked No. 13 in our preseason top 25 countdown.

Here’s Miller’s statement on Smith’s latest injury, via AZ Desert Swarm:

About a year ago I began my statement regarding Ray Smith’s season-ending injury by saying, “Ray Smith is one of the most talented young players that has ever entered our program.” Unfortunately, I begin this year’s statement by reiterating the special talent that Ray has on the basketball court and once again addressing a season-ending knee injury.

In the 25 years I have been a college basketball coach, I have never felt as helpless as I did when I saw him go down on Tuesday night. No 19-year-old kid should have to experience three season-ending injuries in a 30-month period of time. I have watched Ray work with our strength and conditioning coach tirelessly for two years. I have seen him in our training room around the clock, doing everything he can to play the game he loves. To witness his extraordinary efforts and see this happen to him once again is beyond disheartening.

Ray is surrounded by a community that loves Arizona Basketball, current and former teammates that look at him as a brother, and a coaching staff and family that is beyond supportive and forever with him. Although the mountain that Ray is climbing continues to change, my belief in him to be a resounding success in life has never been stronger. His intelligence, charisma and sheer will position him to be special in all that he does. I certainly look forward to helping him, as part of our basketball family, reach all of the goals that he sets out to achieve.”

Here’s a video of Smith from last month on his journey back from injury:

Here’s another of Smith’s days as a high-flying recruit:

This is crushing news for Smith and college basketball fans everywhere. Best of luck to Ray.