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UCLA men’s basketball’s Chris Smith is out for the season with torn ACL

UCLA men’s basketball’s second-leading scorer Chris Smith tore his ACL in his left knee in the team’s victory over Utah on Thursday. The senior guard finished the season with averages of 12.6 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. (Finn Chitwood/Daily Bruin)

By Taiyo Keilin

Jan. 2, 2021 4:41 p.m.

Eight games into the season, the Bruins are losing their leading scorer from a year ago.

UCLA men’s basketball’s (6-2, 2-0 Pac-12) Chris Smith has a torn ACL in his left knee, according to a press release from the program. The senior guard has started all eight contests in 2020, averaging 12.6 points per game, 6.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He ranks second among Bruins in all three of those categories.

“After speaking with our team doctors and medical staff, I’m confident that Chris will make a quick and full recovery,” said coach Mick Cronin 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 percent.”

Smith sustained the injury in UCLA’s 72-70 victory over Utah on Thursday. He played 22 minutes and scored 16 points – his third-highest scoring output on the season and the team’s leading scorer in the win.

The 2019-2020 Pac-12 Most Improved Player led the Bruins with 13.1 points per game last year and earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors at the end of the season. The guard from Chicago declared for the 2020 NBA Draft in April before deciding to return to Westwood for a fourth year in August.

Prior to the injury, Smith was projected to be a late first-round to mid second-round pick in 2021, ranking as the seventh-best small forward in the class, according to NBA Draft Room.

Student-athletes in the NCAA have an extra year of eligibility at their disposal because of the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of whether or not they compete in the 2020-2021 school year. It is currently unknown what Smith plans to do next year.

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Taiyo Keilin | Sports senior staff
Keilin is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's soccer, cross country, women's golf and men's golf beats. Keilin was also a contributor on the baseball, women's golf and men's golf beats.
Keilin is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's soccer, cross country, women's golf and men's golf beats. Keilin was also a contributor on the baseball, women's golf and men's golf beats.
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