A tribute to John Smith’s WSU basketball legacy 2004-2008


John Smith spent his formative years at Johnsburg High School, Ill. It is here that he developed his basketball talents with the hope that he would play college basketball. Smith was recruited by several NCAA Division I colleges (Bradley and Southern Illinois) of the Missouri Valley Conference — one of the top conferences in the country. He was offered a full ride basketball scholarship, worth around $200,000, to Niagara University, which is a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. That was then, this is now. 

Smith tired of the run-around recruitment, so he decided to visit Winona State University to pursue his dream of playing college basketball. The pursuit ended with his commitment to the Warrior basketball program and the rest is history! Smith brought his immense basketball talents, along with his strong work ethic, character, desire to win, and, most importantly, his team play and integrity to the Warrior teams and community. Smith’s teammates all stood on each other’s shoulders while they performed to near perfection. Through Smith’s amazing skills and ability, he was able to help propel other players to a championship level. His teams consisted of other great players who earned their share of accolades as well. Smith admired and embraced his teammates to help bring fame and fortune to Warrior basketball.

“John Smith is one of the most decorated basketball players in NCAA Division II history,” said John McCarthy, founder of the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame. “After spending some time with John during this process, I  was able to enjoy and learn more about his high level of personal character. I was impressed with John on the basketball court and now I’m really impressed with John Smith the human being.”

Smith’s basketball honors include 2006 and 2008 NCAA Division II National Champions; 2007 NCAA Division II Finals, Second place; Three NSIC and Regional Champions; 2006, 2007, and 2008 First Team all-NSIC; 2007 and 2008 NSIC Most Valuable Player; 2007 and 2008 First Team all-American honors; Winona State all-time leading scorer; and a three-year record of a 95-percent winning percentage, the best in all of college basketball, and a 57-game winning streak.

Upon graduation from Winona State, Smith pursued a professional basketball career. For several years he played on several teams in Europe and then came back home. He was offered a contract in the NBA-D league. This is a developmental league for the NBA, which provides a training ground for hopeful NBA players. Unfortunately, Smith suffered a serious knee injury that ended this opportunity and playing career. John Smith is a true champion in life and basketball. He faced adversity and challenges to become the accomplished man that he is — a winner!

John is currently employed with a medical distribution company and lives in St Michaels, Minn., with his wife, Laura, and two children, Colton and Grace.


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