From the moment I met Malachi Smith when he was a sophomore at Belleville East High School, I knew that this young man would be a special gentleman in whatever life would have to offer him. His demeanor and the respect that he has for people and life no doubt will make this young man successful in whatever life has in store for him.
Now, Malachi his paving his way through his freshman year at Wright State, where he is having an excellent freshman year. Entering tonight’s home game against Cleveland State, Wright State is currently 16-11 and 10-4 in the Horizon League.
Smith was not labeled a McDonald’s All-American and he did not have the recruiting profile of fellow area standouts, such as Courtney Ramey (Texas), Joe Reese (Old Dominion), E.J. Liddell,(Ohio State) and Terrence Hargrove Jr.(SLU).
Malachi's perseverance is what’s so attractive about this student-athlete who had to develop the tools needed to compete at the Division I level. The 6’3" Smith was a Second Team All-State selection and First Team Southwestern Conference player for Belleville West last year after transferring from Belleville East.
Smith was the straw that stirred the drink and made the Maroons go during the 2017-18 run when he teamed with E.J. Liddell last year to help lead the Maroons to the Class 4A state championship, the first in the school's history.
Smith's progression at Wright State under head coach Scott Nagy has been smooth, to say the least. Malachi has logged minutes in all 27 games for the Raiders, averaging 13 minutes per game. In addition, he currently ranks third for the assist-to-turnovers ratio, fifth in assists, and seventh in field goal percentage while averaging 4.8 points per game as a true freshman.
In his college debut he scored 10 points against Western Carolina. Other highlights for Smith this season include 14 points against Detroit Mercy, 17 points against Youngstown State, 11 points against Oakland and eight points against SEC Mississippi State. Last week during the Raiders nationally televised game against conference leader Northern Kentucky, Smith played 18 minutes and was instrumental in Wright State 81-77 win.
“I am so proud of him;” said his mom, Connie Smith, who has always been her son’s biggest supporter, not missing a game throughout his high school career at Belleville East and his senior year at Belleville West.
I first encountered Malachi and his mother during his sophomore year while I was an assistant coach with the AAU program Hoopville Warriors. It was then that I took a special interest in him because of his work ethic, determination, and his dedication to his craft, his education, and the respect he gave to his mother and others alike.
While never missing a high school game or an AAU game, his mother Connie would often do a full day’s work, and get him where he needed to be for practice and wait patiently for him to get done during AAU season. In addition, she repeated the same routine during the school year until Malachi started to drive on his own his senior year. It was a perfect combination I personally witnessed.
“I’m just excited for him as his mother seeing him grow not only as an athlete, but as a young man." she said. “His drive, work ethic and determination of not being a great player early in middle school and high school has really payed off. I’m so proud of him.”
The future is bright for the Horizon League guard whose grandfather Larry Knight was drafted by the Utah Jazz in 1979.
And with the Horizon League tournament starting March 5 - March 12, look to hear more about Mr. Smith!