Arizona forward Ray Smith retires after third ACL injury

Ray Smith (24) during Arizona's Red-Blue game last month. (Photo credit: Emily Gauci/Arizona Athletics)

Arizona forward Ray Smith announced on social media Thursday that he is retiring from competitive basketball after suffering a torn ACL for the third time.

Smith tore his right ACL and suffered ligament and meniscal damage in the second half of Arizona's exhibition game against College of Idaho on Tuesday night, his first game since tearing both of his ACLs over the previous two seasons. The university issued a statement saying he will undergo surgery within the next month.

He announced the end of his basketball career on Twitter, writing:

“I love the game of basketball but I have decided to step away from the game for good. I will still be involved with the team and I will still attend THE University of Arizona.

“Pretty much what I'm saying is thank you BASKETBALL you've been GREAT! But the 6'8″ long athletic wing that can play multiple positions is out.”

Arizona coach Sean Miller issued a statement earlier in the day, repeating an earlier description of Smith as “one of the most talented young players that has ever entered our program.” Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward, was the nation's 19th-ranked prospect in 2015 despite missing his senior season in high school with his first knee injury.

“In the 25 years I have been a college basketball coach, I have never felt as helpless as I did when I saw him go down on Tuesday night. No 19-year-old kid should have to experience three season-ending injuries in a 30-month period of time. I have watched Ray work with our strength and conditioning coach tirelessly for two years. I have seen him in our training room around the clock, doing everything he can to play the game he loves. To witness his extraordinary efforts and see this happen to him once again is beyond disheartening.

“Ray is surrounded by a community that loves Arizona Basketball, current and former teammates that look at him as a brother, and a coaching staff and family that is beyond supportive and forever with him. Although the mountain that Ray is climbing continues to change, my belief in him to be a resounding success in life has never been stronger. His intelligence, charisma and sheer will position him to be special in all that he does. I certainly look forward to helping him, as part of our basketball family, reach all of the goals that he sets out to achieve.”


Smith went down early against College of Idaho, setting off a collective groan from the McKale Center crowd. He walked off the court to the locker room and later returned to the game.

Midway through the second half, he went down again and didn't get up. Smith crumpled from the non-contact injury and immediately gestured for help. He was carried off the court.