January 18, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

UCLA’s Chris Smith to miss rest of the season with torn ACL

UCLA suffered a devastating loss before tipoff Saturday when it was announced that senior guard Chris Smith had sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee two days earlier and would be lost for the season.

Smith, the Bruins’ second-leading scorer and the Pac-12 Conference’s most improved player last season, was injured in the final minute of the first half of his team’s 72-70 victory over Utah on Thursday, going down hard behind the baseline after committing a foul. He immediately clutched his knee but returned after halftime and made a three-pointer to help his team hold on for the triumph.

“After speaking with our team doctors and medical staff, I’m confident that Chris will make a quick and full recovery,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said in a statement. “Obviously, he is very disappointed and his teammates feel for him. Everyone at UCLA will help Chris through this, and I know that he will work relentlessly to be back to 100%.”

Smith had returned for one final college season to boost his stock in anticipation of a move to the NBA and it was not immediately known if he would consider returning in 2021-22 as part of extra eligibility granted to all players this season in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was averaging 12.6 points per game, trailing only Jaime Jaquez Jr. on UCLA’s roster, and had put together his finest performance of the season in the early going against Utah, making all six of his shots in the first half. He finished the game with 16 points.

For the season, Smith also averaged 6.4 rebounds and made 43.8% of his shots, 50% of his three-pointers and 79.4% of his free throws.

His absence will likely result in more minutes for guards Jules Bernard, Johnny Juzang and David Singleton.

Smith watched his teammates warm up Saturday before their game against Colorado at Pauley Pavilion and seemed to be in good spirits, shooting a few baskets. Highlights of his performance against Utah were shown on the video board.