Belleville West guard talks taking official recruiting visits
After a solid freshman season as a member of the Wright State University basketball program, Malachi Smith is moving on to play in the Southern Conference.
A former high school standout at both Belleville East and Belleville West and a key contributor on the Maroons’ Class 4A state championship team in 2017-18, Smith has announced that his transferring to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
A 6-3 195-pound guard, Smith was a member of the Horizon League all-freshman team this past season when he averaged 5.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 points for a Wright State team, which finished 21-14 and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament. The Raiders lost a first-round game at Clemson.
“This was a very difficult decision to transfer from Wright State. I am so very grateful to the people there who helped in my development as a basketball player and as a person,’’ Smith said. “But I have to do what is best for me and my future. I believe transferring to Tennessee-Chattanooga is the right decision for me.’’
Per NCAA rules, Smith will sit out the upcoming season but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in the 2020-21 season.
A member of the Southern Conference, the University of Tennessee- Chattanooga Mocs finished 12-20 last year and sixth in the league with a 7-11 mark. Wofford University won the title with a perfect 18-0 conference record, earning a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee-Chattanooga is coached by former University of Wisconsin assistant Lamont Paris who took over the Mocs program in 2017.
“It’s a good school where I’ll continue to work toward my degree in sports management,’’ Smith said. “The basketball program has been successful in the past and one that is on the rise under coach Paris. I really like the school and the coaches and am looking forward to the future and being a part of this basketball program and this university.’’
Smith, who played at Belleville East before transferring to West as a senior, will compete for playing time at both the point guard and off-guard in the 2020-21 season.
“I believe I have improved in all areas of the game since I graduated from Belleville West, especially on the defensive end of the court. I am also bigger and stronger,’’ Smith said. “But it’s an ongoing process. I am working everyday to improve in all areas of the game.’’