UConn Legend - Chris Smith, Jim Calhoun's most important recruit

There are only two players that have scored 2,000 points in the history...there are only 5 players that have multiple 600 point seasons in Storrs...One is Richard Hamilton....The other is Bridgeport's own Chris Smith, UConn's All Time Leading Scorer.

Chris was a football player as a kid. Basketball wasn't a thing until his middle school years at St Augustine Cathedral School. And as a fifth graded, he was starting on the Jr High Aged team that featured 7th and 8th graders. A Kolbe Cathedral in Bridgeport, Smitty took his game to another level. First leading Kolbe to the Class M Championship Game. Where they lost to state power St. Joseph's of Trumbull.. During his time at Kolbe, his game just got better and better, where he was named a High School American and State Player of the Year. The kind of player that usually didn't go to UConn in past years....But there was a new Sheriff in town, his name was Jim Calhoun...In just his second year in Storrs, he had put UConn on the map with an NIT Title....and he wasn't done by a longshot. Smith could have gone to BC or Tennessee, but the want to play close to home and what Calhoun was starting to build was enticing. Smitty was headed to Storrs..

Calhoun wanted to make Chris an NBA Caliber Player and make the Huskies "his" team down the road. However it didn't take that long...a strong performer in his freshman year, Smith complimented Phil Gamble and Cliff Robinson and averaged 10 points per game, as he shot 39% from 3...The Huskies went 18-13 before a good run to the NIT Quarterfinals ended the Huskies season. And it was the first year in a while UConn wasn't playing in the 8-9 Game of the Big East Tournament.

The 1989-90 Season would be different. Tate George was the point guard, Smitty the two, Rod Sellers, Torino Walker, John Gwynn, Steve Pikell, Scott Burrell and Nadav Henefeld among others...By season's end all household names in UConn Nation. 10-2 heading into January where the Huskies were embarrassed at St John's, losing to by 31. That game changed everything....what followed would be ten game win streak, that included back to back Civic Center wins against #5 Syracuse and #2 Georgetown in January...and by the time the Huskies hosted St John's as they opened Gampel Pavilion on January 27th, Smith led the payback with 20 in a 72-58 win and a three way tie for first in the Big East. Something UConn had never done in a decade of play in the league...They'd share the Big East Regular Season Title for the first time....and then again beat Georgetown and Syracuse on back to back days in the Semi's and Final to win their first Big East Tournament Title. Where Smith was Named the Tournament MVP...By the this time, the Huskies were ranked 4th in the AP poll, highest in school history...And a #1 seed in the East Regional..where Hartford was the starting point. Big Crowds watch the Huskies beat BU and Cal, before the epic "The Shot" by Tate George beat Clemson in the Sweet 16 in the Meadowlands....Then the epic OT loss to Duke, where Smith hit a big three late in regulation to get the Huskies to OT...Smith scored 635 points, had 132 assists and shot 39% from three in the Dream Season....A Second Team All Big East Selection....31-6 and a steal away from the Final Four..And Smith, along with Tate George made the All Regional Team.

20-11/9-7 in Big East play followed in the 90-91 season...where the Huskies started the year in the Top 25...But a six game, Big East slide in mid season took them out, before wins over #20 Georgetown and #20 Seton Hall late in the year, followed by a win over Pitt in the Big East Tournament, got UConn in the Dance....where they beat the Shaquille O'Neil led LSU Tigers and Xavier in the Tournament to reach the Sweet 16...And Again, Duke ended their run. Smith again was a 2nd Team All Big East selection, averaging 19 points and shooting 39% from 3 while doling out 105 assists....

Smith's final season would be his personal best...Averaging 21 points per game, scoring 637 points and he shot 42% from three point range in a 20-10 season. Three times he went off for 30pt games. That included a then Gampel Record 37 against St John's and 32 against Providence where he became the first UConn player surpassed the 2,000pt mark. And the Huskies went 10-8 in the Big East. St John's knocked them off in OT in the Tournament Quarterfinals. UConn won one game in the NCAA's in 1992, beating Nebraska in Cincinnati before losing to Ohio State...Chris Smith named a first team all Big East selection...

Smitty's Career at UConn, a school record 2,145 points, 107 double figure games, 115 games started (5th). His 728 field goals are second most in UConn History...and he's a guard...In 1992, Smith was a second round pick of the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves....and was having a productive career before the league went on strike in 1995. Smith played in France for two years where an achilles injury at the end of year two derailed his career...Smith came back to the NBA in the 98'-99' season, but it just wasn't meant to be....And after one more trip to Europe, career over.

Smitty using his degree in Business Administration, worked in Dallas before coming back to Connecticut and working in the banking industry. He even coached his high school alma mater for six years this past decade... He's been behind the mic as an analyst for Sacred Heart Basketball games and in 2019, he was awarded with the State's Gold Key Award from the Connecticut Sportswriter's Alliance...

Finally, a big time Nutmegger stayed home and played for State U....and helped UConn become a regular player in the NCAA Tournament under JimCalhoun....Chris Smith, a UConn Legend

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