Tennessee’s Tyler Smith has been on top of his game in his workouts, according to UT coach Bruce Pearl.
“I’ve seen a maturity in Tyler over the past three or four weeks as it relates to him getting himself ready,’’ Pearl said. “He’s playing his best basketball right now.’’
Smith, a 6-foot-6 junior projected to play small forward at the NBA level, worked out for the San Antonio Spurs last weekend and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
Smith is scheduled to work out with the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls later this week.
The evaluation concludes with a combine-like event in Chicago on May 27-30, and Smith is expected to announce whether he’ll return for his senior season at UT soon thereafter.
“This is the opportunity of his lifetime,’’ Pearl said. “It’s a win-win situation for him, and he has clearly stepped it up.
“Based on what we’ve heard, he has to work his way up from (projections) the middle of the second round.’’
Smith has until June 15 to withdraw from the NBA draft, which takes place on June 25.
Statistics indicate that approximately half of the players selected in the second round of past NBA drafts sign contracts.
Only first-round picks sign guaranteed contracts, hence Smith’s approach that he needs to be projected to be selected “comfortably’’ in the first round.
Smith has said he’s not sure if playing in Europe would be the best thing for his family at this point of his career, as he has a toddler son to support and spend time with.
Projections: DraftExpress.com, on Monday, projected Smith would be selected with the 43rd overall pick in the NBA Draft by the Miami Heat.
The website projects 13 small forwards selected in the two rounds, five of them in the first round. Smith would be the 12th small forward taken if the projections are correct.
The NBAdraft.net website, in its most recent projections on May 11 does not have Smith among the 60 players and 16 small forwards expected to be chosen.
NBADraft.net projects Smith to be the 27th overall player and eighth small forward taken in the 2010 draft. J.P. Prince, who is overcoming shoulder surgery, is projected to go No. 52 overall in 2010, 12th among shooting guards.