Keith Smart

Photo: AP/Susan Ragan

Keith Smart Biography

Keith Smart is a former basketball player from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who played for Indiana University. He played guard for the Hoosiers for two seasons (1986-1988) after he transferred from Garden City CC. He was selected in the second round, 41st overall pick by the Golden State Warriors. He played professional basketball for 10 seasons (1988-1997) before becoming a coach. He has coached professionally since 1997, most recently as an assistant coach for theArkansas Razorbacks. Keith Smart may be best known to Hoosier fans as the player who hit the game winning shot in the 1987 NCAA championship game that gave the Hoosiers the 74-73 victory over the Syracuse Orangemen.

  • Name: Jonathan Keith Smart
  • Position: Guard
  • Nationality: USA
  • Age: 59 years old
  • Birthday: September 21, 1964
  • Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • High School: McKinley HS (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
  • Height: 6’1″ (185 cm)
  • Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)
  • Seasons: 2 (1986-1988)
  • Jersey: #23
  • NBA Draft: 1988 / Round 2 / 41st Overall – Golden State Warriors

Awards and Accolades

  • 2017 Inductee in IU Athletics Hall of Fame
  • 1987 NCAA Championship
  • 1987 NCAA Most Outstanding Player Award

Keith Smart Recruiting Profile

Keith Smart went to high school at McKinley HS in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was 5’4″ in high school and barely made the high school team. He was even rarely allowed to practice or dress with the team for the game. He was intimidated by the talent of the rest of his team and ended up quitting basketball his junior season.

He returned as a senior having grown three inches and he started to develop into a more confident player. Three games into the season, he broke his right wrist and missed the rest of the year.

He was not a highly recruited prospect coming out of high school. He did not have any college offers and he as a result attended Garden City CC (Kansas) for his first two years of eligibility. However, he did not attend college right away after high school and rather spent several years working at McDonald’s beforehand.

Bob Knight was the head coach during Keith Smart’s time at Indiana University. Knight originally had some skepticism in recruiting a junior college prospect to his team, but was convinced by the captain of Knight’s 1976 championship team, Quinn Buckner. Knight also recruited Dean Garrett from the City College of San Francisco. Knight’s decision to allow both of these junior college prospects was influence by the 19-14 season that the Hoosiers experienced the year prior. Additionally, Knight was concerned after the previous season having Andre Harris who was a junior college recruit from Kansas struggle academically when the season started.

Keith Smart’s Seasons with the Hoosiers

1986-1987 Indiana Basketball Season
Bob Knight (16th Season)
30-4 (15-3 Big Ten)
🏆 1st Place Big Ten
🏆 NCAA Champions
1987-1988 Indiana Basketball Season
Bob Knight (17th Season)
19-10 (11-7 Big Ten)
5th Place Big Ten
🏅 NCAA First Round

Keith Smart’s Indiana University Statistics

1986-1987 34 31 884 26 148 286 0.517 12 33 0.364 74 88 0.841 100 2.9 101 109 3.2 2 0.1 30 382 11.2
1987-1988 29 21 754 26 147 284 0.518 9 28 0.321 80 92 0.870 86 3 67 89 3.1 4 0.1 27 383 13.2
Total 63 52 1683 26 295 570 0.518 21 61 0.344 154 180 0.856 186 3 168 198 3.1 142 6 57 765 12

Keith Smart’s Career at Indiana University

Keith Smart attended Garden City CC in Kansas prior to attending Indiana University. In his first season, he averaged 22.8 points, won Jayhawk Conference Player of the Year, and immediately caught the attention of Indiana assistant coach, Joby Wright. However, Joby Wright came to Kansas to look at another player at that time. Smart started to receive recruiting letters due to his speed and quickness on the court.

Smart did not take the recruiting letters seriously that he was receiving. He despised the Hoosiers and the way that Bob Knight behaved.

I just threw them away without opening them,” he says. “I had seen Coach Knight grab a player by the jersey once, and I thought to myself right then, ‘No way I could ever play for that man.’

Keith Smart
Source: Harry DiOrio / The Post Standard

Knight decided to show up to campus in Garden City CC one day and visited Smart in the locker room. Smart donned a new hairstyle where he had topiary work done on his hair with a circle cut around the top of his head, two arrows carved in the back and wearing 7-8 gold chains. Knight saw this and did not say a word in this interaction.

He decided to transfer to Indiana after seeing the campus first-hand and spending an entire day talking to professors and visiting classrooms. He transferred despite all the scare he heard from family and friends telling him that Bob Knight “was crazy.”

Keith Smart made an immediate impact at Indiana University when he set foot on campus. He stared in 31 of the 34 games his first year with the team and added 11.2 points per game as a guard. This first year was easily highlighted by the fact the team went to the 1987 national championship game against the Syracuse Orangemen which were coached by Jim Boeheim at this time. Keith Smart played in the final seven minutes of the game and played an exceptionally well. He hit the final shot of the game with 3 seconds remaining on the clock to put the Hoosiers on top for good, 74-73. That shot has been glorified in history books by Hoosier fans as “The Shot.” He was awarded the NCAA Most Outstanding Player award at the conclusion of the tournament as well.

His senior season with the Hoosiers had high expectations that they would repeat last years title run. Keith Smart started in 21 of 29 games and made 13.2 points per game. The Hoosiers struggled with a 19-10 record overall and still made the tournament as a No. 4 seed. They had an early exit in the first round to No. 13 Richmond 69-72.

Keith Smart’s Career after Indiana University

Keith Smart entered the NBA draft and was drafted in the second round, 41st overall by the Golden State Warriors. He signed with the San Antonio Spurs and played two games in the 1988-1989 season for a total of 12 minutes where he scored two points, two assists, and a rebound.

Keith Smart as HC in Wizards vs. Warriors 03/02/11
Source: Keith Allison

He took his career overseas to play for the San Miguel Beermen in the Phillipines in the 1989 season. Over his 10 year professional career, he also played for Worcester Counts, Youngstown Pride, Halifax Windjammers, Bravo de Lara, Cambrais Basket, Trotamundos de Carabobo, Florida Beachdogs, and Fort Wayne Fury.

He retired from basketball and went into coaching afterwards. In 1997 he became the head coach of the Fort Wayne Fury and in 2000 became an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2003, he became head coach as the interim coach. He tallied a 9-31 record with the team and did not stay as the head coach after the season concluded.

After the conclusion of the season, he coached for the Golden State Warriors as an assistant for seven years before becoming their head coach. The Warriors fired Smart after a 36 win season despite it being a 10 win improvement over the previous season.

Source: Rich Pedroncelli, Associated Press

He then joined the Sacramento Kings as an assistant and became head coach in 2011 for two years. This occurred after the firing of Paul Westphal. Smart tallied a 48-93 record in two seasons and was fired on May 31, 2013 despite having a year left in his contract.

Since 2013, Smart has been an assistant coach for the Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, and New York Knicks. In May 2021, Smart was named as an assistant coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Keith Smart Videos and Highlights

Highlights as a Hoosier

Highlights after Graduation

Contributors: Dakota Thompson