Boys Basketball

Belleville East guard transfers to West, could make Maroons a contender

Malachi Smith averaged more than 12 points and six rebounds as a junior at Belleville East last season. Come November, he’ll join junior four-star recruit E.J. Liddell to make the Belleville West Maroons the team to beat in the Southwestern Conference.
Malachi Smith averaged more than 12 points and six rebounds as a junior at Belleville East last season. Come November, he’ll join junior four-star recruit E.J. Liddell to make the Belleville West Maroons the team to beat in the Southwestern Conference. dholtmann@bnd.com

With college basketball scholarship offers already on the table from Montana State University and Lindenwood-St. Charles, Malachi Smith has spent the summer sharpening his game with the Jets Ramey United AAU Basketball program.

But when the high school season begins in November, the 6-foot-3 guard will be wearing the uniform of the Belleville West Maroons.

A key member of the Belleville East Lancers the past two years, Smith confirmed Wednesday that he has moved to the other end of town and will attend Belleville West High School in the 2017-18 school year.

He’ll join a Maroons squad, which could be the team to beat in the Southwestern Conference during the 2017-18 season. West finished 20-9 and won a Class 4A regional championship a year ago behind four-star recruit in 6-foot-7 E.J. Liddell, a junior who’s already entertain offers from the likes of Illinois, Iowa and Saint Louis University.

“The transition has gone well. I knew a lot of the West players before I got here, but they’ve welcomed me in like one of the family,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to the season. Our short-term goal is to win the Southwestern Conference.”

Smith, who averaged 5.4 points in 28 games as a sophomore, blossomed as a junior with 12 points and 6.3 rebounds for the 16-13 Lancers.

“The reason for the me transferring is that we were looking for a house and my mom found a house that she loves. The house is in the Belleville West school district,” Smith said. “The decision was above me. Whatever she says, goes.

“It was a very tough decision. I had been at Belleville East for three years and established a lot of close relationships with coaches and friends. It was a tough decision.”

Connie Smith, when reached by telephone Wednesday, said the move wasn’t an easy decision because of the relationships her son already has at East.

“It’s not easy for Malachi because he’s a senior in high school and he’s leaving friends he’s gone to school with and known for many years.

“The good thing is that he’s still in the same region (Belleville) where he can still see them.”

Both Belleville East and Belleville West are in BTHS High School District 201.

Malachi Smith, a combination shooting guard/point guard, is enjoying an excellent summer with the Jets Ramey United AAU team.

Playing on the same court with other metro-east high school standouts such as Kevin Caldwell from Alton, Caleb Strohmeier from Edwardsville and Jalen Hodge from O’Fallon, Jets Ramey won a tournament in Milwaukee two weeks ago and will play in another tournament starting Friday in Kansas City.

“It’s been great. We’re having a great time and every tournament we play in, there are over 500 college coaches watching. It’s a great way to get seen.” Smith said. “I would describe myself as a combination point guard/off guard. I’m quick, I can handle the ball, but I’m also strong enough to where I can handle the bigger guys in the post down low.

“I think I’m pretty versatile. Whatever the coach needs me to do on the court I feel like I can do. I’m also a leader, I like to talk a lot.”

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