For most of last season, Missouri basketball was able to flirt with a postseason bid despite the absence of Jontay Porter because a torn right ACL.
But the Tigers’ chances significantly diminished after losing Mark Smith in mid-January because of an ankle injury. Smith was one of the nation’s leading three-point shooters at the time at 47.5% and was averaging 11.4 points per game. Smith underwent foot surgery and missed the rest of the season, but told reporters on Friday that he’s in much better shape and that the pain he’s played with for five years has diminished.
“I’m working there, I’m very close,” Smith said. “I’m fine with the team going up and down. I’m trying to progress each and every day. I always played with them when it’s a little broken, now it’s healed.”
The 6-foot-3 shooting guard said the injury was on the side of his foot and has lingered since his sophomore season of high school. When Smith became a national recruit during his senior year at Edwardsville High School in Illinois, he said he was able to play a full season without much pain.
At Arkansas, Smith said he “basically rebroke it again,” which he had also done while in high school. Smith said he isn’t restricted in Missouri’s workouts but has been taking things slowly to make sure his foot heals properly. Last season, Smith said the bone broke worse than before, which is why he elected for surgery.
While he’s been cautious in practice, Smith appears fine in the weight room, as Missouri recently tweeted a video of Smith dead-lifting 495 pounds, which teammate Torrence Watson described as “football player weight.”
Smith said this will be the first time in years Smith will be able to play without the pain or anxiety that it presented.
“I feel like it’s an extra bonus mentally just not having to worry about a little tweak in my foot,” he said. “Personally, I’ll just be a lot healthier.”