Scoochie Smith keeps hearing the same thing from fans of the Dayton Flyers.
“I’m sad it’s your last year,” they tell him.
“It goes by so fast,” Smith says. “I can’t believe it’s my last year. I remember when I first got here.”
Three years ago, the 6-foot-2 point guard from the Bronx, N.Y., and the Putnam Science Academy in Connecticut arrived on campus with two other freshmen, forward Kendall Pollard and guard Kyle Davis. That group, which now includes guard Charles Cooke, has won 78 games. The Flyers haven’t won that many games in a three-year span since 1949-52, when they won 79.
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By the middle of his sophomore year, Smith was already talking about the goal of becoming the winningest class in UD history. The 2017 class remains on pace to top the 2011 class, led by Chris Wright, that won 97 games.
It seems a given that a team that has finished 26-11, 27-9 and 25-8 the last three seasons will win at least 20 games and break that record. Smith has seen enough in his career to know not to take anything for granted.
“It’s tough to win college basketball games,” Smith said. “It’ll be tough to get, but with the team we have, we should definitely get it.”
Smith should reach a number of personal milestones in 2016-17 as well. He’s going to graduate next spring with a degree in electronics media with a double minor in sociology and entrepreneurship.
Smith ranks 61st in school history with 831 career points and will rank in the top 30 if he matches his 11.7 scoring average of last season.
Smith ranks 14th in assists with 341. He will rank eighth in school history if he averages 3.5 assists per game again. Smith has played in 100 games and needs to play in 27 more to reach the top 10 in that category.
Smith has served as a steady force for the Flyers throughout his career, at times a dominant one. He scored 26 and 29 points in the last two games of the regular season against Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth, leading UD to a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship with VCU and St. Bonaventure.
Being more aggressive, always looking to attack, not taking plays off. Those are Smith’s goals in his senior year. On the other hand, Smith said, “I try not to focus on the individual (goals). If it happens, it happens. I always try to let the game come to me. If I’ve got to score, then I score. If I’ve got to pass, then I pass. It’s just the way the game flows. The ultimate goal of the game is to win, so I do whatever I have to do for the team to win.”
Smith spent the first summer session at home in New York City. It wasn’t a vacation from basketball. He spent time playing with Kemba Walker, a guard for the Charlotte Hornets who played at Rice High School in New York. That school closed during Smith’s high school years. That’s how he ended up at Putnam.
Walker is best friends’s with Smith’s cousin. They sometimes played at Terminal 23, a basketball facility less than a block away from Madison Square Garden. The court is dedicated to New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
“I think it’s one of my best summers of improvement,” Smith said. “I’m just working on little stuff like flexibility. I do yoga. I’m working on the follow-through on my shot.”