Tyler Smith cheered in return to Knoxville

The gun charges that led to Tyler Smith being dismissed from Tennessee and exiled to Turkey for the start of his professional career appeared to be forgiven and forgotten by fans in Knoxville Thursday.

Smith was back in town to play in a summer league game, and the Knoxville News Sentinel reports that he received applause, autographed items for kids, and was even substituted out of the game late so he could soak in another warm reception.

"I thought maybe it would be mixed,'' said Smith, who hadn't played in front of Tennessee fans since leading the Vols to a 66-59 upset at Memphis on New Year's Eve. "But I knew however it was going to be, I needed to come back for all the fans that stayed behind me.

"I made a mistake, and you don't run from your mistakes in life.''

Smith told the paper that it was his original plan to go back overseas next season rather than give the NBA a try because the gun incident might have been too fresh in everyone's mind, but that he's now going to work out for Boston, Dallas and Milwaukee.

And it's got to be a great feeling for Smith knowing he's going to get at least some moral support while continuing on what has been a troubled path to the pros.