A "piece of the future" was added to the University of Wyoming men's basketball team on Monday when head coach Larry Shyatt announced the signing of Shakir Smith. The six-foot-two shooting guard from Tucson, Arizona impressed the Cowboy coaching staff during AAU tournaments this summer and takes the last scholarship Wyoming had available.

Smith helped Tucson High School make it to two state tournaments in his final two seasons. As a senior, he averaged over 24 points, five assists and three steals per game. He earned All-Southern Player of the Year his junior and senior seasons.

Coach Shyatt talked about what Smith can bring to the Cowboy basketball team on Monday:

We need, and all coaches need, a long, lanky shooter. He's a long, lanky shooter. He probably is about 6-2, 6-1.5, but probably has about a 6-foot-5 wingspan. If we can put some pressure on people defensively, I think he can fit in to what we're going to do. And like all freshmen we've signed, we talked about them being a piece of the future. I think he's a quality piece. So we're happy to have him a part of the program and we look forward to seeing him in three weeks.

The Wyoming coaching staff had said they were uncertain as to whether they would sign a player for this year or hold onto their last available scholarship (which went to Smith). Shyatt explained how they found Smith and why they decided on him:

We sent word out to many of our friends, whether they're basketball coaches or AAU coaches, that we have a scholarship, and in the event there's somebody that can really impact this program down the road, we're going to be interested -- whether it be a transfer or whether it be somebody who becomes a 2011. We found out about Shakir from a phone call from an individual to Coach Duncan. We followed it up and gave a promise that I, personally, would come and watch him play at least two or three times and assess it and give them an up-front evaluation, which I did. And I liked him enough that our entire staff got to see him on a number of occasions. So, we had a couple other people that we were looking at, but in terms of needs and in terms of fit, Shakir and his mother seemed to be the best one at the right time.

On Monday Shyatt also commented on the recruiting process for this year's class:
Early in the process, we were far more concerned in the backcourt because we felt like with Leonard and Nance and Lekan and Adam and Rob and possibly Afam, if he returned, we thought we had a little bit too much in the two positions, the interior positions. And if anything, we were a little light in the backcourt. But this last spot was really more a product of: What do we need most? Let's think down the road because we have six seniors that deserve and are going to play important minutes this year, because you know what? I want them to have a great senior year. And you know what? They're men. They're ahead physically. These freshmen, including Shakir, needs to be the foundation of the program, the future of the program and probably six months from now, the face of the program.
Smith also made comments yesterday, talking about why he waited to sign and why he chose Wyoming (with questions from KOWB Sports Director David Settle):