By Adam Lindner | Staff Writer
After sitting out last year, Duquesne guard Tarin Smith is finally ready to reap the benefits of all of the hard work he’s put in over the past year at Duquesne since transferring in from Nebraska.
Originally from Ocean Township, N.J. and a product of the nationally-renowned hoops academy St. Anthony High School, Smith committed to Nebraska in 2014 after strongly considering Providence, Ole Miss and Duquesne among other schools.
As a freshman during the 2014 season, Smith averaged 17.6 minutes per game to go along with 4.5 ppg. One of only four players to see action in every single one of the Cornhuskers’ 31 games, Tarin was the team’s fourth-leading scorer and boasted a notable 13-point outing at Ohio State.
Although he seemed to be a big part of the future for Nebraska, Smith decided he needed a change of scenery and transferred to Duquesne.
“I really like the team, the family atmosphere and just think we can be really good,” Smith said.
With major roster turnover in the backcourt, Smith will have a serious opportunity to rack up a solid number of minutes this year at the guard position. He already received the starting nod in the Red & Blue’s lone scrimmage against Mansfield.
Though the team is largely different than last year’s squad, Smith remains undeterred.
“I’m excited for the season,” Smith said. “We have a pretty new group of guys, but a lot of talent, so it should be a good one.”
While there’s surely a fair amount of uneasiness regarding how the team will respond with the loss of two star guards from last year’s squad, Smith is just happy to be able to play again after sitting last season out as a redshirt. He is excited to see how his teammates can grow and build chemistry on and off the court with one another.
The opportunity to play basketball is something that Smith has really cherished throughout his life, beginning around the time he was seven years old.
“It’s been everything for me,” Smith said. “It’s taken me around the world, and I’ve met some of my best friends [through the sport] and it’s taught me numerous life lessons.”
The valedictorian of his graduating class, Tarin also played AAU ball with Jersey-based Sports University. Smith is one of five former Sports U players to sign with power-conference teams, along with Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky, now of the Minnesota Timberwolves), Jared Nickens (Maryland), Wade Baldwin IV (Vanderbilt, Memphis Grizzlies) and Quadri Moore (Cincinnati).
Despite being a dynamic guard who can do a little bit of everything, Smith refused to say he modeled his game after any one guy.
“My favorite two [in the NBA] are Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard,” Smith said. “I’ve been a fan of Kyrie from a young age since we’re both from Jersey, and I just love his handle and offensive game. I love Dame because he’s an underdog and how he brings it every game.”
While Smith is certainly hoping for a successful first campaign as a Duke, he’s just happy to be back on the court doing what he loves. He accredits his father with being an exemplary figure in his life – on and off the court.
“My biggest role model would definitely be my father. He’s been my basketball mentor throughout my life.”