Projected first-rounder Terquavion Smith withdrawing from NBA draft, returning to North Carolina State

North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Terquavion Smith
Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Non-lottery first-round picks in the 2022 NBA Draft project to get $4 million-$8 million guaranteed. Show even a modicum of potential, and they’ll more than double that income over a four-year rookie-scale contract. Players who prove to belong in the NBA also start the clock toward their more-lucrative second contracts.

Most would jump at that opportunity.

Not Terquavion Smith.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

NC State guard Terquavion Smith, a projected first-round pick, is withdrawing from the NBA draft and returning to school for his sophomore season, he told ESPN.

“I have to be honest and admit money has never been at the center of my thoughts. My agent explained to me that teams as high as the late teens, through the rest of the first round, all have me ranked as a first-round talent. It’s exciting to hear that. But I told him I have more work to do. I like school and my college in particular. Remember, my last two years have been so strange, thanks to the pandemic. I just want one more season to get everything right and just be a college student.”

I hope this works out for Smith. That’s a lot of money to pass up.

But the 19-year-old will never have another opportunity to live anything like the normal college experience. With NIL, he can still earn some money next year. He could also improve his playmaking, get stronger, hone his defense and get drafted even higher in 2023.

Yet, mitigating factors don’t change this: Smith has NBA first-round money right in front of him and is instead inviting more uncertainty.