Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

PJay Smith Jr. Concludes Furman Basketball Signings

Crowned Freshman of the Year & All-Conference Honors at Lee University, Smith is set to add depth to Furman’s guard rotation in the 2023-24 season.
Courtesy of Furman Athletics

The Furman Paladins have added PJay Smith Jr. from Lee University to the squad ahead of the upcoming 2023-24 season. This move, announced by head coach Bob Richey, marks Furman’s last addition to the roster.

“We are very excited to add PJay to our program,” said Richey. “He brings excellent shot making ability to our offense but also brings high level perimeter defending and the ability to rebound from the guard spot. He is a proven all-conference player from a well-coached, winning program in Lee University that is coached by former Furman guard Bubba Smith. With his proven character, ability to impact winning in high school and college, and his high level of talent, he checked every box for us in the evaluation process. We cannot wait to get him here in June.”

Smith is a 6’0-tall, 175-pound guard who started all 28 games for Lee University as a sophomore this past season. The Tennessee native averaged 15.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. These stats, though impressive, hardly capture his all-around contribution to the Flames. PJay’s 47 steals throughout the season illustrate his “high level perimeter defending,” as highlighted by Coach Richey in the press statement.

Smith’s 44.8 percent shooting beyond the arc needs no further explanation: He can drain three-pointers. For comparison purposes, no player in the Southern Conference (SoCon) topped Smith’s accuracy beyond the arc in the 2022-23 season. SoCon’s three-point field goal percentage leader, Tre Jackson from Western Carolina University, shot a remarkable 43.9% from the three-point line. Smith’s 83.5-percent free throw shooting also made him the team-best free throw shooter back in his sophomore season at Lee.

Adam Sonn, Smith’s head coach at Goodpasture Christian School, reminisced on his high school days: “PJay is one of the best players and people that I have coached in my 15-year career. He has incredible instincts on both sides of the ball, loves the game, loves to compete, and loves to work. Everyone is drawn to PJay.”

Smith, former AAU backcourt partner of Furman’s SoCon Tourney MVP JP Pegues, won 2020-21 GSC Freshman of the Year Honors after his rookie campaign. The freshman averaged 6.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

In his second year, Smith steered Lee University toward the NCAA Division II National Tournament. His breakout season saw him surpass 20 points on six occasions, which in return earned him second team All-GSC accolades. The 6’0 guard’s career-best 32-point performance on 5-of-7 three-pointers and 11-for-11 at the foul line at Auburn-Montgomery was the cherry on the cake for his sophomore season.

With two years of eligibility left, Smith has accumulated 635 career points at Lee University. We are looking forward to watching him boost the energy on both sides of the court while contributing to the razor-sharp Paladin offense.

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About the Contributor
Deniz Sariaslan
Deniz Sariaslan, Managing Editor
A junior from Turkey, Deniz is a double major in Economics and Communication Studies. His interest in media goes a long way back to 2019, since when he has been working as an NBA-credentialed editor at Turkey’s largest social media network on basketball. Having served as The Paladin’s sports editor for the past two years, he has decided to step out of his comfort zone and embrace a new challenge. So here he is now, executing the Managing Editor role.
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