Arizona Basketball: Forward Ray Smith walks away from Basketball


The 2016-17 Arizona Basketball season has officially tipped off, and with only a few days into the year, some terrible news was just delivered to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Never has a 51-point win felt like such a loss. Arizona Basketball opened their season with an easy exhibition victory over The College of Idaho, but it was a rather somber tone following the Wildcats’ convincing win.

Before tip-off, we had learned that sophomore center, Chance Comanche‘ will be suspended indefinitely, due to an academic issue. His return is unknown at this time. In addition to that, we are still unsure of the status of sophomore Allonzo Trier, who awaits a decision on whether he will play this season.

With just minutes left in the game, Ray Smith, the former sensational five-star forward from Las Vegas went down on the court grimacing in pain. Wildcats fans’ hearts sunk as they watched in sheer disbelief as the 6’8” forward appeared to be clutching his knee and making a throat slashing sign with his hand across his neck to the bench.

Not again, we thought. Back-to-back years of ACL tears, no way this is happening again.

This Arizona Wildcats team was hyped as a potential Final Four contender. The final four tournament will be hosted in Glendale, AZ this season. Those dreams rest on the status of both Trier and Comanche.

For now, the Wildcats are hoping for a little luck and a little magic, as the official kicks off next week in Hawaii.

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The Wildcats do still have a talented roster, and should Trier and Comanche return to the team rather quickly, Arizona’s chances improve immensely.

However, for Smith it appears playing basketball will no longer in his future. Awaiting official word of his injury, it appears it is indeed an ACL tear, his third in as many years.

It can be tough to return from one, let alone two, this is his third. The injury came at a point when anyone in his position would have to seriously contemplate their future. What else would you be willing to risk? For Smith, he has tragically decided to walk away from basketball altogether.

He understands his situation and feels lucky to be alive losing a close friend to murder recently.

A potentially great basketball career cut short far too soon. Only 19-years old, the mature Smith had this to say via social media, announcing his retirement.

Quite the words of wisdom and a humbling response from an athlete destined for greatness in basketball. To have something you love ripped from you can’t be easy, and we can’t begin to imagine the amount of emotion Smith is feeling right now.

The young Smith really puts life into perspective with his message and we know he is still destined for great things. It just won’t be by bouncing a basketball as a player!

At Zona Zealots, our staff had some encouraging things to say to Ray:

Shereen Rayan: “Ray, they say when one door closes another door opens. And when something great ends, you move on with room for something else to fill the void. You inspire me never to give up, to keep on going and to keep a level head. I know you inspire all of Wildcat Nation with your perseverance and maturity. Please know we adore you and we are all here to cheer you on no matter what you choose to pursue in your life. You are a very special young man, and we are all proud of you. Huge Virtual Hug and BearDown!”

Peggy McClain: “Ray, Well, I really don’t know what to say. You have had too many curveballs in your young life. But your mature handling of the situation puts you head and shoulders above many. Thanks for choosing Arizona and sticking with it. There is something special in store for you, in time you will find out what that is. God writes straight with crooked lines. #WildcatFamily.”

Mark Barrera: “Your handling of this unfair injury is impressive. Your outlook on life itself is impressive. Making the decision to walk away, stay in school, still help the team, is impressive. In my opinion, all of this is more impressive than your highlights mix. You’re a grown man and inspiration. Nothing but respect, sir. BearDown!

Kevin Jiang: “While most of the Arizona fanbase will know and remember you as “the 6’8″ long athletic wing that could play multiple positions” but had three knee injuries, you’re right when you and your dad say that the sport doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after apart from the game. We all believe that you’ll be able to find success off the court, and for that, you will truly always be a champion and a member of our Wildcat family. Bear Down Ray!”

Eric Townsend: “Take care young man! You will always be a Wildcat no matter what. Basketball only lasts so long, and long after you hang up the sneakers, hopefully, you can reflect on a life worth living. You are a talented and humble young man who is destined for great things. You have a very bright future, and I wish you nothing but the best, you have certainly earned it! Bear Down, Ray!”

Here is a video once again to highlight the amazing basketball talent of Ray Smith:

Next: It's Time the Arizona Wildcats get a Break, and that Doesn't Mean Another Injury

Again, we are truly disappointed by the news, and we hope for nothing but the best for Ray. We have enjoyed seeing you as a Wildcat and will enjoy seeing you support your team from the bench. You will succeed in life with the amount maturity and wisdom you carry yourself with! You will always be a Wildcat! Bear Down, Ray!