WKU retires WKU Legend Dwight Smith’s jersey

Dwight Smith Jersey retirement
Published: Feb. 4, 2023 at 8:50 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - During halftime of WKU’s 74-69 win over UTEP, Western Kentucky retired the no. 35 jersey of late great Dwight Smith. His sister and two brothers were there to do the revealing of the banner and were presented with a plaque from WKU president Tim Caboni.

“We had a [reception] before the game,” continued WKU head coach Rick Stansbury on retiring Smith’s jersey during the game. “We had the opportunity to meet all of this family and a whole bunch of coaches and players that were on that team… To be able to come out here today, we wore shirts [with his number] before the game, to honor him. To come out here and find a way to win a game with toughness, evidently that’s who he was, that’s what everybody says he was about, toughness, that was pretty special.”

Smith is the 11th player in program history to have their jersey retired. Smith, along with WKU legend Clem Haskins were the first African American basketball players to attended Western Kentucky University.

Smith, a 6-4 guard from Princeton, Ky., starred on three of the greatest teams in the long and illustrious history of the sport on The Hill. Those clubs won 66 of 81 games (81.5%), including a sparkling 31-3 record (91.2%) in games played in E.A. Diddle Arena, and posted a 37-5 mark (88.1%) in Ohio Valley Conference competition, winning two league and conference tournament titles and making three straight post-season tourney appearances – two (1966 & ‘67) in the NCAA Championships and one (1965) in the NIT.

He earned All-OVC honors three times, falling just three rebounds shy of averaging a double-double each season. Still, he remains one of just nine Toppers on record to average a “double-double” for his career – 14.6 points per game and 11.0 rebounds a contest. The others on that elite list Jim McDaniels (1969-71), Ralph Crosthwaite (1955, ‘57-59), Tom Marshall (1951-54), Smith’s teammate Clem Haskins (1965-67), Art Spoelstra (1952-54), Charlie Osborne (1958-60), Chris Marcus (2000-02) and Bob Daniels (1954-57). Smith was the top rebounding guard in the nation in both his sophomore (11.3 rpg) and senior (11.9 rpg) seasons.

He was regarded as one of the best defensive guards in the nation at that time, due in part to his top-notch prowess on the defensive glass. Only 13 Hilltoppers on record reached the elite 1,000-point threshold in fewer games – he topped 1,000 in his 70th game. And, he was only the 8th Topper to reach 1,000 points at the time he completed his career on The Hill. The Las Angeles Lakers’ 4th pick in the 3rd round of the 1967 NBA draft, Smith died in an automobile accident on May 14, 1967.

Smith was selected for the WKU basketball all-century team in 2018.