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Putting the pieces together

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By Stevie McCarter


By Stevie McCarter

Born here in Riverside, RCC’s new basketball coach John Smith is “very happy to be here.”

Smith graduated from J.W. North high school. He participated in many sports p r o g r a m s : b a s e b a l l , football, track and basketball, of course.

He then moved on to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he played basketball and was injured. Jerry Tarkanian, a former Riverside Community College coach from 1962-1966, coached Smith at UNLV as well as his father, whom they called “Lucky Smith.” After two years at UNLV, Smith transferred to Dominican College in San Rafael and graduated in 1994.

He then began his basketball coaching career at Valley View High School as its assistant coach.

After a few years there he left high school and started coaching college. First he was at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga, then he went all the way to the College of Southern Idaho, and then he came back to California, where he coached at San Bernardino Valley College for five years. As well as coaching, Smith was also the athletic director at SBV.

While at Valley View, he coached Jerry Duprey, a young talented basketball player. Smith grew fond of him and knew he had potential. The young athlete graduated high school and followed Smith to Idaho, playing there for a few years. Just this year Duprey signed a one-year contract to the Los Angeles Lakers. Although very excited and proud of Duprey, Smith made him promise he would finish his classes at USC.

Here at RCC, school finally began and all 15 players trained every day. Conditioning, working out and practicing Monday through Friday, even on Saturdays.

“I would like to continue the tradition of the past successors,” Smith said.

Hard working and dedicated, he isn’t just a coach, according to a few players.

“Off the court, he’s a friend. But on the court, he’s all about business.” said Jacob Daigle.

“He is concerned with basketball, yet he wants to see you succeed with an education,” said Steven Shewnake.

Smith is a husband and a father of three children whom he describes as a “beautiful family.” His son, who is 7 years old, has been the ball boy since he was 10 months old, and loves everything about basketball. His two daughters are his “little cheerleaders,” Smith said with a smile on his face. And his wife, who will be at most if not all of the games, “is hard to miss if you’re a referee,” he says, but this time laughing.

The men’s basketball season starts with their first game on Nov. 13.

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