Five-Star Talks Pangos, Cal

Five-Star Talks Pangos, Cal

Ray Smith breaks down visit possibilities, what puts California in his top 10 and his relationship with Yanni Hufnagel.

When five-star small forward Ray Smith went bonkers this past weekend at the Pangos All-American Camp, showing off his explosive leaping, fearlessness and – above all – confidence, it was far from unexpected, especially for California, which recently made the 6-foot-7 wing's top 10. What worked so well for Smith?

"Everything," he said. "My whole thing was to just attack. I look at my defender, say he can't guard me, and figure out what I want to do. If I want to take it to the basket or do I want to pull up […] the pull-up was working well – the 15-footer. I worked with the 15-footer, I got to the rack, ran the floor. I'd say it was a really, really good camp."

Why did the Bears make Smith's top 10? In a word: Yanni -- and, no, not the master of the pan flute; assistant coach Yanni Hufnagel.

"I usually talk to Yanni. I talk to Yanni a lot. He's a really cool dude," Smith said. "Sometimes, we really don't even talk about recruitment; we just sit and joke around for an hour, 45 minutes or something. He's a really, really cool guy."

Hufnagel and Smith go back to the new assistant coach's time at Vanderbilt, where he had already started recruiting the No. 22 overall player in the 2015 class.

"Yanni was at Vanderbilt, and we always talked, and he said, ‘I know you don't want to come out here,' and all that stuff, and I said, ‘Yeah, man, I don't know, maybe,' but he told me, ‘Man, if I get the chance to come out there, I'm going to recruit you the hardest,' and, sure enough, he's on the West Coast, and he comes at me pretty hard. He's a cool guy," Smith said.

Smith has spoken with head coach Cuonzo Martin, as well, and is buying what the new Cal skipper is selling.

"He told me a little bit more about their plan and what Cal is trying to do," Smith said. "They want to run, of course, and they want to set low screens, high screens, flare screens, ball screens – they want to run a bit of a motion thing, and that's something I could see myself in, the ball-fake, one-dribble, off the screen, I can read the pick and roll, so that works really well."

While the Bears are up against stiff competition for Smith – Arizona, Wake Forest, Louisville, Georgetown, UCLA, USC, Arizona State, Oregon and Texas – they have made progress, though the topic of a visit hasn't quite been broached – yet.

"We haven't talked about that yet, but that's definitely something I want to do," Smith said. "I mean, why not?"

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