Local Product Coaching in NCAA Tournament - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Local Product Coaching in NCAA Tournament

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It's been quite a trek for Devon Smith. Smith played and graduated from Ohio State before coaching stops all over the place, but including Louisville and now Wichita State.

As a player, Smith played in the NCAA Tournament with Ohio State. As a coach, he's visited the Big Dance with Oakland, Louisville and Wichita State. But it all started in Ronceverte, where he grew up and attended Greenbrier East.

"Being from Greenbrier East and being from that county, I can't tell you how proud I am of those people, because they are wonder people," Smith said through a phone interview.

Now, he is the Manager of Player Development at Wichita State.

"Each coach has different academic responsibilities. We handle those with our kids and then we review film as a staff. We just talk about our team everyday and we talk about how we can improve our team," he said.

The Shockers are in the Sweet 16 and it came by two upset wins. First against Pittsburgh.

"The only thing we were thinking about was where we would eat after the loss. Pitt scared the bejeezies out of us. We challenged our guys the whole week and we were very fortunate to come out with the win," Smith said.

After the 18-point victory, top-seed Gonzaga loomed.

"The guys just played loose, they played free. We had nothing to lose. You're kind of playing with house money. Our guys performed and I am so happy and so proud to be around these guys," he said.

A 76-70 WSU win means the Shockers will meet up with La Salle on Thursday. It's the first team the Shockers have played that is seeded below them.

"The thing that scares me about La Salle is they are small and quick and that's what you want to be in the game of basketball. So it's going to be a terrific game," he said.

Regardless of where Smith is, he's always reminded of his upbringing.

"I'm from Ronceverte, West Virginia. Population of maybe 15,000 people. I've had the great opportunity to go the NCAA Tournament with four different teams. To me, that's pretty special."

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