NC State

Amid NC State’s NCAA trouble, Dennis Smith Jr. gets Fayetteville’s key to the city

The recruitment of NC State’s Dennis Smith Jr.

Fayetteville's Dennis Smith Jr. was one of the most sought after recruits in America and committed to NC State in 2015. He was he highest-rated recruit to commit to the Wolfpack and coach Mark Gottfried.
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Fayetteville's Dennis Smith Jr. was one of the most sought after recruits in America and committed to NC State in 2015. He was he highest-rated recruit to commit to the Wolfpack and coach Mark Gottfried.

Dennis Smith Jr. has received one of highest honors his hometown of Fayetteville can bestow -- the ceremonial key to the city.

Smith Jr., the former N.C. State guard, was presented the key Tuesday by mayor Mitch Colvin during a presentation at the city’s Tera Garden Apartments. According to the Fayetteville Observer, Colvin praised Smith for Smith’s “efforts to support the youth and provide exceptional leadership to the citizens of Fayetteville, on and off the court.”

Not mentioned by Colvin: Smith Jr. being a key figure in the NCAA’s investigation into wrongdoings before he enrolled at N.C. State and during his one season of basketball with the Wolfpack.

N.C. State, which received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on July 10, faces four violations tied to Smith Jr. including two Level I violations:

Former assistant coach Orlando Early’s connection to a $40,000 payment during Smith’s recruitment, and more than $6,600 in impermissible benefits to Smith’s family and associates in the form of complimentary tickets to N.C. State games.

Former head coach Mark Gottfried’s failure to monitor Early during Smith’s recruitment and in the distribution of the complimentary tickets.

N.C. State, which was given 90 days to respond to the Notice of Allegations, faces potential NCAA sanctions.

Gottfried was fired by N.C. State in February 2017, effective at the end of the 2016-17 season. Gottfried’s last game at N.C. State, in the 2017 ACC Tournament, also was Smith’s last for the Pack, the two walking off the Barclays Center court in New York together.

Smith played 32 games for the Wolfpack -- N.C. State was 15-17 overall and 4-14 in the ACC -- and was named ACC freshman of the year. A first-round draft pick by the Dallas Mavericks, he was traded to the New York Knicks as part of a seven-player deal in January.

The Observer reported that Smith helped renovate the basketball courts at the Seabrook Park recreation center in Fayetteville and returned during the NBA’s All-Star Game break to conduct a basketball clinic in conjunction with Under Armour.

“That meant a lot to the community,” Colvin told the Observer.

Smith Jr., who was flanked Wednesday by Colvin and Fayetteville city council member Kathy Jensen during the Fayetteville ceremony, smiled as he held up a plaque bearing the ceremonial key but did not offer any comments.

“He said he didn’t want to speak. He speaks on the court,” Colvin told the crowd.

Efforts to reach Smith Jr. and Colvin on Thursday were unsuccessful.

This story was updated to correct the name of the NBA team that drafted Dennis Smith Jr. He was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks.

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