I guess in a way you could say it was fate that drew me to Katie Smith. Born Katherine May to John and Barbara Smith and with two brothers John and Tom who both played college sports. I started following her just prior to her signing with Ohio State while finishing a stellar high school career at Logan High School.
I say fate because right away, I was a fan of women’s basketball – mostly because of her. There were other reasons and the big one came in the size of my own daughter playing guard and reminding me of her in just about all aspects of women’s basketball. Hustle, tenacity, intensity and talent all express what makes up my daughter’s basketball identity. They also remind me of my favorite parts of Katie’s game.
Katie began her life of basketball in Logan, Ohio – terrorizing boys on the court. Needing the challenge as a fifth grader, she played on boy’s teams, and at a young age people knew she was going to be something special. I’m not entirely sure how accurate the Ohio High School Athletic Associations records are because the only list that Katie as 5th in career points in state history with 2,740. I am sure she should be on the free throw list and possibly the steals.
She became a high school All-American for the Lady Chieftains and led them to a state title in 1992, in which she also participated in one of the first national girls high school all-star games(WBCA).
Katie signed with Ohio State to play for Nancy Darsch and she made an immediate impact that earned her All-American honors. She came at a time that Darsch had the Lady Buckeyes rolling and it paid off immediately with a showing in the NCAA Final Four and championship game. She set the new standard for single season scoring in a season with 578 points and single season free throws made/attempted with 164/203. She would go on to break her own records in each category during her career. Her single season mark of 745 points stood in the Buckeye Record Book until Jantel Lavender’s 774 in 2011.
She led the Lady Buckeyes in all four years she was there and repeated her AA efforts in her finest season in 1996. At the top or very close in every category imaginable, she was the career leader in scoring with 2,578 points until Lavender came, FG’s made with 826 until Lavender and Davenport, 2nd in FG attempts with 1,763(3rd now). Was the leader in 3 FG made and attempted until the game caught up and gave us Marscilla Packer, Caity Matter and Samantha Prahalis .
One place she may never be displaced is on the charity stripe. Always a hard-worker she knew the importance of free throw shooting and was the person getting to the line more times than not. In her career she was 708 (#1) for 805 (#1) for .838 (which really is #1). Her shooting percentage is topped by Caity Matter and Marscilla Packer, but they took 600 and 700 fewer free throws. To put it in perspective, Smith’s free throws made were 27% of her total points scored in her career. Amazing when you consider that opposing teams did all they could to shut her down, and failed miserably.
Idaho State did all they could in a game in 1994 and Katie went off for 40 which was the single game mark until Prahalis’ 42 against Minnesota last season. Frani Washington held the mark prior to Katie having scored 39 against Tennessee in 1978. Katie had four games in which she scored more than 30 points, second on the list behind Lavenders five.
Katie fills the record book with her name in many categories and you can look them up here. She was part of an era for Ohio State women’s basketball that quite possibly will never be matched. As a Buckeye fan I am sure they will have continued success, but those teams that she was on are all over the record books in just about every team category. They hold one distinction that I am sure some Buckeye team will accomplish someday and that is playing for a title. They lost to a Sheryl Swoopes led Texas Tech squad as she put up a tournament record 47 against the lady Buckeyes. Swoopes also made 11 of 11 free throws in the game which they only won by two points (84-82).
Since her time at Ohio State, Katie Smith has won three Olympic gold medals for Team USA in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2006 she collected her first WNBA championship with the Detroit Shock and her second in 2008. In 2005, she became the first women’s professional basketball player to score 5,000 career points and topped 6,000 in 2007 (ABL and WNBA). Also in 2005, she served as a student assistant in the Ohio State women’s basketball office, while taking classes in preparation for application to dental school. In 2006, Smith earned her seventh WNBA All-Star appearance and is the all-time scoring leader in the history of U.S. women’s professional basketball (ABL and WNBA). In October, 2001 she became the first women’s basketball player to be inducted into the Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame.
She’s had an amazing career as a player on the hardwood and has been enjoying coaching of late being a player development assistant recently for Foster. I tweeted recently that I think that coach Foster may be in dire straights as the head coach in Columbus. I may be in the minority but I cannot think of a better replacement for him than Katie Smith. No head coaching experience to speak of but she has been a general on the floor her whole life.
She has a relationship with fellow players like nobody else and is probably one of the most liked players all around the world. She would be a great fit because when people think about Ohio State women’s basketball, they think of her. It’s because of her success on the court in the scarlet and Gray.It’s because she has left a mark on anyone who follows their favorite university. If you look up Ohio State women’s basketball in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of Katie. Heck, just google her name and you’ll have plenty of reading.
Give Katie a follow on twitter @KatieSmith30