BayRunners coach Herb Brown said signing former Washington Bullets No. 1 pick LaBradford Smith could turn out to be "the steal of the year."
The BayRunners announced the acquisition of Smith and University of Maryland standout Rodney Elliott yesterday. The two become the eighth and ninth members of the team.
Smith returns to the United States after playing in Europe the past three seasons. The Bullets took Smith -- 6 feet 4, 202 pounds -- as the 19th overall pick in the 1991 draft.
"He exudes class. He knows what it is all about," Brown said of Smith. "He has been a first-round draft choice. He has a terrific attitude. If we can get more guys like him, then my job will be easy.
"I don't get excited about a lot of guys, but I'm excited about him. He reminds me of other guys I've had in the past who have been through the wars and had some hard knocks. He's shown some resilience."
Smith scored 5.1 points a game and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line as an NBA rookie. He averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists in his second season with the Bullets, in 1992-93. The Bullets traded Smith to the Sacramento Kings in the middle of the next season.
He played in the Continental Basketball Association for two years before going to Spain and Poland.
Smith's wife lives in Baltimore, and he cited that as a major reason for signing with the BayRunners.
"It was pretty tough with her over here and me over there," Smith said.
"I had some offers in Europe again. I know I can still play in the NBA. So I wanted to give it another shot. This is one step."
Smith was drafted 19th overall out of Louisville, where he started 103 games for the Cardinals. He averaged 16.6 points and 4.9 assists as a senior.
Smith will team with Elliott, who held a news conference yesterday at Dunbar, his former school.
Elliott starred at Maryland, where he averaged 15 points and 7.4 rebounds his senior season in 1997-98. He spent last year playing in Belgium, scoring 20.1 points a game.
"When people came to us and asked what the BayRunners are going to be about, we always told them about having players from the local market," BayRunners president Greg Smith said. "We'll have players who are great in the community, who maybe need a year or two to develop before they go on to the NBA. That is exactly what Rodney is about."
Pub Date: 10/26/99