Meet Lamont Smith

AGE: 40

HOMETOWN: Colony, Texas

BONA FIDES: After finishing his playing career at USD in 1999, Lamont Smith began a 16-year run as an assistant coach, with stops at St. Louis University, Saint Mary’s, Santa Clara, Arizona State, Washington and New Mexico. A skilled recruiter, Smith has a clear vision of the type of player he’s looking to bring to USD. “First and foremost, I want high-character young men; men that can be successful and thrive on the court and in the classroom. Skill, athleticism and toughness come next, and they’ve got to be able to dribble, pass and shoot from all five positions on the court.”

GETTING DEFENSIVE: A two-time Defensive Player of the Year during his playing days at USD, Smith plans to build the team’s identity through a commitment to making opponents work for every single basket. “I really value defense. You don’t see teams getting easy layups against top programs like Duke and North Carolina. You have to be mentally and physically tough to succeed in this sport, and that all starts on the defensive side of the ball.”

A FAST START: The Torero men’s basketball program has been seemingly stuck in neutral since De’Jon Jackson’s game-winning jump shot against Connecticut in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, but Smith has developed a simple philosophy he hopes will bring USD hoops back to national prominence. “I came up with an acronym that captures what I think will get us to the next level: FAST – Fun, Aggressive, Smart and Together. Fun is simple, because when you talk about basketball, you play it because it’s fun. Aggressive is my personality, and I want our club to follow suit. Smart comes from knowing your job on the court inside and out, and together means that everyone is on the same page, executing their roles.”

LOVE WHAT YOU DO: Back in 1994, it took Smith just a few practices with his Torero teammates to realize his dreams of playing professional basketball were more pie-in-the-sky than practical: “The desire was there, but unfortunately the size and talent weren’t.” Not to be deterred, he shifted his focus to learning the X’s and O’s of coaching, and the rest is history. “I’m so passionate about this game, I just wanted to find an ‘in’ to staying around it. Coaching was that in, and it’s given me so much. I’m blessed and grateful for the opportunities basketball has provided me; especially the one I have here.”