USC basketball coach Kevin O’Neill, last seen double-fisting cocktails at the Pac-10 tournament, once said UCLA sophomore center Josh Smith had more upside than any other player in the conference. Now he’s not as positive about the Bruins big man.
“I like Josh, I think he’s a good player,” O’Neill said Thursday, when asked how he thinks Smith is progressing this season. “But I would encourage anybody that’s in Josh’s physical condition that, if you want to play at the next level, he’s got to lose weight and get himself in better shape to play.”
O’Neill emphasized that Smith needs to get in shape to play at the next level.
Wrong-minded UCLA fans will get upset with the USC coach for what he said, but that would be a poor reaction. I applaud O’Neill for opening his mouth.
Like O’Neill, I thought Smith had a lot of potential as a player. I still think he does. And in some senses, his 6’10″ 300-plus pound frame is an asset in the post. However, his weight is such a problem he’s only averaged 18 minutes a game. How are you supposed to be a major impact player when you’re in the game less than half the time?
Hopefully Smith uses O’Neill’s criticism to improve himself as a player. It would be good for him and the team.