Lenzelle Smith Appreciative of His Four Years, Wishing He Had One More Left
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The days leading up to Senior Day are always a period of reflection for players and coaches, regardless of the sport. Looking back on the past four or five years for most players is like reminiscing upon a blur, each moment moving by faster than the last.
For Ohio State senior guard Lenzelle Smith, his four years have gone by with the same hectic pace that oftentimes describes his play on the court.
Not a single one of those four years will be taken for granted, however.
Photo by Dan Harker
"I definitely walk around this campus and this has been the best part of my life bar none, being a student athlete here, and it's coming to an end," Smith said on Friday.
"Just with that in mind, everything goes fast, but starting in my sophomore year I tried to learn how to appreciate the 7:00 a.m. workouts because I knew that we were going to get to this point at some time and we'd kind of wish we still had one more summer to go with those 7:00 a.m.'s."
On Sunday, Smith will be starting in his 107th consecutive game, a streak that stretches all the way back to the first game of his sophomore season.
That first start came in a 73-42 win against Wright State in 2011. He played just 20 minutes, but provided a tremendous hint of what to expect from him in the future as he scored eight points, came away with a pair of steals, and grabbed seven rebounds.
He was a surprise starter as a sophomore that season, but looking back, Smith wishes that was actually his redshirt freshman year.
"Especially coming in here with an injury my senior year (in high school), I wish I would have sat out that year and had a year left still to play," he said.
"I think I've done pretty well in the three years that I've actually played. I've had a lot of fun and a lot of accomplishments. I've been proud to put the jersey on that says 'Ohio State', and that's what it's all about. I just want to leave this place knowing that I gave my all for the school, and did everything I can for Buckeye Nation."
The admission of wishing he would have redshirted as a freshmen is a bit of a revelation, as players generally stick to the cliche of "I wouldn't change anything." With the days winding down, however, a player's reflection can often reveal the truth of the situation. The blur begins to slow and a clear picture of reality begins to settle.
What is the reason for Smith's concession? To borrow a few words from 'Carmen Ohio', it comes down to time and change.
"Obviously my season here coming to an end, the real world," Smith admitted.
"Obviously graduating is a huge accomplishment, but I won't be able to put my Ohio State jersey on anymore and look at some of my fellow classmates and see the smiles on their faces after a victory."
Smith's playing career is winding down, and he may only have a handful of games left to wear the Ohio State jersey, but his days as a Buckeye are only just beginning. He understands this, and it's actually one of the things that he's excited about.
"When I meet somebody down the road and they say, 'Hey, I went to Ohio State,' well I can tell them a story like, 'Remember the year we beat this person or we beat this team,' and then kind of reminisce about that," he said. "I think that will be kind of cool and I'm looking forward to that."
Being a senior, this entire season has been a year of "lasts" for Lenzelle Smith. Sunday will be the last time he gets introduced to the home crowd, and it will be the last time he gets to play on the floor inside the Schottenstein Center.
Memories will race back through his mind, each better than the last. The best years of his life, he says, wishing there was still one left to go.
And those 7:00 a.m. workouts that Smith will miss?
"You can come back and work out at 7 a.m. with them if you want, I'm good," quipped fellow senior Aaron Craft.
"If I got to put the jersey back on and play with them, then I would be all for it," Smith said, smiling.
Related Article: Craft Leaves Legacy
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