Smith brings magic, experience to ULM

Hailing from Jacksonville, Fla., Daishon Smith had a plan from the very beginning- to play professional basketball. His love of basketball stemmed from playing outside every day and competing at a young age with other people in the neighborhood.

“I wanted to be better than them, so it gave me a sense of competition,” Smith said.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. Trying to become the third male in the family to graduate from high school is no easy task, but with three younger sisters, an example has to be set.

“I’m the first guy in my family to actually go to college. I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. I want to set the tone for my sisters and let them know the sky is the limit,” Smith said.

When Smith was deciding on colleges, Eastern Florida State College was his choice. However, after his freshman year, a change was needed. Eastern Florida State College was experiencing a rebuilding year. Smith wanted to go somewhere that had an established coach and offered numerous opportunities. Tallahassee Community College was the choice. That’s where the journey truly begins.

During an event in Panama City, ULM head coach Keith Richard and assistant coach Ryan Cross first saw Smith play.

“I liked him then and whispered over to Ryan and said, ‘Boy, I’d sure like to have him.’,” Richard said.

ULM wasn’t the only team to recruit Smith. Wichita State was very much in play.

“We recruited him hard,” Richard added.

In the end, Smith decided on Wichita State because he felt it was in his best interests.

“They [Wichita State] had been to the tournament numerous times and the facilities were amazing. Those guys were at a professional level. I knew I’d learn a lot of basketball,” Smith said.

Following his junior year, Wichita State experienced coaching changes and moved from the Missouri Valley conference to the American Athletic conference. Between the changes and not seeing enough playing time, Smith knew another change was needed to keep his dream alive.

“I knew to eventually play professional basketball which has always been my dream, I needed to come play for a coach that really wanted me,” Smith said.

Smith made his way to Monroe and decided to sit for a year to become a better basketball player. When this season started and the team started to do well, Smith had a lot to do with the instant success.

“I think he’s already shown that he’s as good as I thought he’d be and I hope he can do more,” Richard said.

In the aftermath of the Georgia State game, Smith is averaging 49 percent on field goals, 46 percent on three-pointers, 87 percent on free throws, 20.8 points per game, almost four rebounds per game and has  43 assists.

Because of his great statistics, Smith was named a National Mid-Major Player of the Week. The award is given out by the Lou Henson Award and College Sports Madness. Smith was also named Louisiana Sports Writer’s Association Player of the Week and Sun Belt Player of                 the Week.

“I put a lot of work in to get some of those accolades, but I’m not going to be complacent. I still have a lot more I want to do,” Smith said.

Fellow teammates know how hard of a worker Smith is and know that complacency is not an option.

“He’s hungry. He loves to win. He’s a big competitor and a hard worker,” senior forward Travis Munnings said.

Munnings’ sentiments were echoed by sophomore guard                 Michael Ertel.

“He’s really unselfish. He’s almost like another coach out there,”              Ertel said.

Mid-Major Player of the Week isn’t the only thing Smith wants. The sky is the limit.

“I want to be conference Player of the Year. I want regular season team of the year and a tournament win,” Smith said.

Despite being such a good player and leader for ULM, Smith is humble and remembers where he came from.

“At the end of the day, I’m here to win games and get to the NCAA tournament. I’m going to keep my head down and keep working,” Smith said.

After college, Smith only has one dream: to play professional basketball for his favorite team, the    Orlando Magic.

“I want to play in the NBA, but I know my skill level isn’t there yet, so I’ve got to keep working. But my dream team is the Orlando Magic. It’s right up the road from where I’m from,” Smith said.

Getting to play professional basketball is difficult, but if Smith keeps playing at the level he’s at, what he tells his sisters will come true: “The sky is the limit.”