Team preview: Colorado State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

By the time the NCAA signing period rolled around last spring, Colorado State's lineup was set.

All-Mountain West Conference center Jason Smith had announced he wouldn't even test the NBA draft waters before his junior year. Honorable mention All-MWC forward Michael Harrison could only improve on his solid transition from junior college in his senior year. Freddy Robinson, who came on late as a defensive stopper at small forward, was finally past a slew of injuries that plagued his career.

Point guard Cory Lewis (10.1 ppg, 4.5 apg), largely responsible for picking up CSU's snail-like pace, would be back for his senior year.

Then came the recruiting shock of the spring. Tyler Smith, the Northeastern Junior College guard who was once ranked as a Top 100 player in the same graduating class with LeBron James, spurned Texas Tech to sign with the Rams. He left DePaul after an unproductive freshman year, but averaged 21.0 points, 6.7 boards and 4.1 assists at his next stop. He was rated the No. 59 player in the nation on one recruiting site and took Region IX Player-of-the-Year honors.

CSU had two factors in its favor in recruiting the high-profile guard. Smith would get instant NBA exposure feeding the ball to the other Smith. Fort Collins is only an hour drive from his best friend from Baltimore who first brought him out to the state. That would be Denver Nuggets star forward Carmelo Anthony.

"We always had quality inside play. Now I think we have the potential for a lot more quality in the backcourt," CSU coach Dale Layer said.