Updated August 2021
Now in his third season as an assistant coach at Florida State, Steve Smith has proven to be one of the top in-game tacticians and recruiters in college basketball. He was named to Head Coach Leonard Hamilton’s staff on August 7, 2019.
In his first two seasons at Florida State, Smith has helped the Seminoles to a 44-12 overall record, the Sweet 16 of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the 2020 ACC Championship, the championship game of the 2021 ACC Tournament and the top-10 in the national rankings in both of his first two seasons. He also helped the Seminoles attract the No. 2 ranked recruiting class in the nation during his first full recruiting cycle in Tallahassee.
In his nine seasons as a coach in the ACC (two at Florida State and seven at Clemson), Smith’s teams average 17.6 wins, have won at least 25 games twice, at least 20 games four times, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament twice (in 2021 at Florida State and in 2018 at Clemson) and won at least 10 ACC games in five seasons.
In his first season at Florida State, Smith helped coach the Seminoles to the ACC Championship with a 26-5 overall record and a 16-4 record in ACC play. The ACC Championship was just the second in Florida State history and the 16 wins by the Seminoles marked a school record for ACC regular season victories. Florida State was a favorite to win the NCAA Championship before the tournament was cancelled due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic.
Florida State is 27-9 in ACC regular season play (.771 winning percentage) with a first place (in 2020) and a second place (2021) finish in the conference standings in his first two seasons on the Seminole bench – the best back-to-back ACC finishes in the history of the program.
During his seven seasons at Clemson, Smith recruited and coached three of the Tigers’ top players in two-time All-ACC selection Jaron Blossomgame, 2014 ACC Defensive Player of the Year K.J. McDaniels and Donte Grantham, who led Clemson to a 16-3 record to begin the 2017-18 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
At Clemson, Smith helped lead the Tigers to five postseason appearances including the Sweet 16 of the 2018 NCAA Tournament and the Semifinals of the 2014 NIT. The Tigers won 25 games in 2018, 23 in 2014 and won at least 10 ACC games in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Clemson finished in a tie for third in the ACC standings during the 2018 season when they defeated four nationally ranked teams including Auburn (by an 84-53 margin) to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for only the fourth time in school history.
Smith was an assistant coach at Clemson during one of the best seven-year periods in the history of the program. The Tigers averaged 18.7 wins and won six postseason games with Smith on the bench. The Tigers’ 25 wins during the 2018 season marked just the third time Clemson had won 25 games in the history of the program. In 2018 Clemson won a school record 11 ACC games, including victories over No. 17 ranked North Carolina and No. 22 Florida. Clemson was defeated in the NCAA Tournament by No. 1 seeded Kansas, 80-76, as they fell just four points shy of only the second Elite Eight appearance in school history.
The Varnville, S.C. native, was a successful coach at both Georgia Southern and USC Upstate before coaching Clemson to new heights.
During the 2011-12 season, Smith helped Georgia Southern to a 15-15 overall record and a 12-6 mark in the Southern Conference. Smith helped orchestrate an 11-win improvement from the previous season — the second-largest single-season turnaround in Southern Conference history. While in Statesboro, Smith helped coach Eric Ferguson to first-team All-Southern Conference honors and to the All-Freshman Team. He also coached Willie Powers III to all-conference first team honors in 2010 and all-conference third team honors in 2011.
Smith was an assistant at USC Upstate in Spartanburg, S.C., from 2002-09. He was Eddie Payne’s top assistant from 2005-09 during the program’s transition into the Division I level. Smith helped the Spartans to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances at the Division II level in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, USC Upstate went 24-8 and earned a share of the regular season championship in the Peach Belt Conference. The Spartans were 20-10 and won the PBC Tournament to advance to the national tournament in 2005. USC Upstate moved into Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2007 for Smith’s final two years on staff.
Smith and his wife, Fran, have three children: daughters Tayler and Karsyn, and a son, Jordan.
NATIONAL SUCCESS IN 2021
Florida State finished in second place in the ACC standings, advanced to the championship game of the 2021 ACC Tournament and to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2021. The Seminoles totaled a 2-1 record in the NCAA Tournament and a 1-1 record in the ACC Tournament. With 44 wins during Smith’s first two seasons at Florida State (44-12), the Seminoles are the winningest team in the ACC in the last two seasons. Smith’s scouting a preparation helped the Seminoles defeat four nationally ranked teams — No. 25 Florida (Dec. 12), No. 20 Clemson (Jan. 23), No. 7 Virginia (Feb. 15) and No. 22 Colorado (March 22) – each of those teams played in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
CHAMPIONSHIP SUCCESS AT FLORIDA STATE IN 2020
Florida State won 26 games, a school-record 16 ACC games, and won the ACC Championship as Florida State enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history. The Seminoles defeated four nationally ranked teams including defending national champion Virginia and Louisville twice during the season. The Seminoles were the favorite to win the National Championship had the NCAA Tournament not been cancelled due to the worldwide pandemic.
SPECTACULAR 2018 SEASON AT CLEMSON
Clemson advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. It marked the first time since the 1997 season that Clemson had advanced to the Sweet 16. The Tigers tied the school record for overall wins with 25 and established a school record with 11 ACC wins. It marked only the third time in program history that they had won at least 25 games and it was only the fourth time in school history the Tigers had won 10 or more ACC games in a single season. The Tigers’ tied for third place finish in the ACC standings marking just the second time since the 1990 season that Clemson finished in third place or better in the ACC standings. Clemson earned four victories over nationally ranked teams: 71-69 over No. 22 Florida, 72-63 over No. 18 Miami, 82-78 over No. 19 North Carolina and 84-53 over No. 21 Auburn in the NCAA Tournament.
NIT SEMIFINALS IN 2014
Smith helped Clemson advance to the semifinals of the 2014 NIT when the Tigers played in the famed Madison Square Garden in New York. In advancing to the NIT Semifinals for the second time in school history, the Tigers defeated Georgia State, Illinois and Belmont before falling to SMU in the national semifinals. It marked the fourth time in school history the Tigers had won at least three postseason games in the same season. The Tigers won a school record four games in advancing to the 1999 NIT Championship game. Clemson won three NCAA Tournament games in advancing to the Elite Eight in 1980 and won three games in advancing to the NIT semifinals in 2007.
COACHING IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT
Smith helped lead Clemson into the 2018 NCAA Tournament where it advanced to the Sweet 16 for just the fourth time in school history. The Tigers defeated New Mexico State (79-68) in the first round for Clemson’s first win the NCAA Tournament since 2011. Clemson defeated Auburn by an 84-53 margin to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997 where it lost to No. 1 seeded Kansas, 80-76. Smith also coached USC Upstate into the NCAA Division II Tournament in 2005 and 2006. The Spartans advanced to the regional semifinals in 2005 and into the regional quarterfinals in 2006.
A RESPECTED RECRUITER
Smith has cemented himself as one of the top recruiters in college basketball. He was a lead recruiter for the Seminoles as the program attracted the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation in 2021. Smith helped recruit each one of the Seminoles’ 2021 newcomers and was largely responsible for helping sign John Butler, the No. 1 recruit in the state of South Carolina and a top-50 national recruit. Included among the players he helped recruit to Clemson are two-time All-ACC forward and 2016 ACC Most Improved Player Jaron Blossomgame, Second-Team All-ACC selection in 2018 Marcquise Reed, 2018 Honorable Mention All-ACC selection Gabe DeVoe, 2018 All-ACC Defensive pick Elijah Thomas and 2018 All-ACC Tournament second team pick Shelton Mitchell. He was also instrumental in the development of All-ACC First-Team selection K.J. McDaniels and All-ACC Third-Team pick Devin Booker in 2013.
SUCCESS AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN
Smith coached at Georgia Southern for three seasons under current Seminole assistant coach Charlton “CY” Young. In Statesboro, Smith was part of a coaching staff charged with leading a program in the midst of a two-year probationary period due to NCAA sanctions stemming from the previous staff. In 2011-12, Smith helped orchestrate an 11-win improvement in the regular season of the Southern Conference, the second-largest single-season turnaround in conference history. In 2011-12, the Eagles went 15-15 overall, 12-6 in the Southern Conference. Smith coached Eric Ferguson to First-Team All-Southern Conference honors, one year after he was named to the All-Freshman Team. He also coached Willie Powers III, a First-Team All-Southern Conference selection in 2010 and Third-Team All-Southern Conference pick in 2011.
HELPED TRANSITION TO DIVISION I AT USC UPSTATE
Smith was an assistant coach at USC Upstate from 2002-2009. During Smith’s tenure as an assistant coach with USC Upstate, the Spartans won two Peach Belt Conference championships and helped lead the team to two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, advancing to the second round in 2005. Smith coached three players, Kevin Harrington, Jay Free and Luke Payne, who finished their careers with more than 1,000 points scored as well as C.J. Paul, who played from 2002-2004 and ranks in the top 10 for career marks in three-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, steals and assists. Paul is the older brother of current Phoenix Suns and former Wake Forest star Chris Paul. In 2008-2009, senior Bobby Davis finished his career with 738 points and 501 rebounds in his two years with the Spartans. Smith helped the USC Upstate Department of Athletics transition into Division I and the Atlantic Sun Conference for the 2006-07 academic year.
Smith began his collegiate playing career at Morgan State (1991-94) where he played two seasons before enlisting in the United States Army where he served various assignments from 1994-2000 at Ft. Gordon (Ga.), Ft. Hood (Texas) and Ft. Meade (Maryland). While in the Army, he specialized in computers, gaining invaluable training in that discipline. When a Commanding Officer saw Smith playing a pick-up game on base, he was later selected to participate as a member of the All-Army basketball team. As a member of the All-Army basketball team, he traveled the country playing exhibition games.
COACHING CAREER BEGAN AT ALLEN UNIVERSITY
Smith enrolled in Trinity College 2000 and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems in 2002. While he was completing his degree requirements, Smith began his coaching career as an assistant coach for women’s basketball at Allen University in Columbia, S.C.
Smith, 48, and his wife, Fran have three children: daughters Taylor and Karsyn, and a son, Jordan. Smith is a native of Varnville, S.C., and was a two-time all-region player for Wade Hampton High School. He led the Red Devils to three conference championships. His second cousin, Dwight Smith, was a professional baseball player for four teams, including the Atlanta Braves, where he was a member of the franchise’s 1995 World Series team.
Assistant Coaching Record
|2002-03||USC Upstate||18-11||11-8 Peach Belt||Kevin Harrington First-Team All-League|
|2003-04||USC Upstate||14-14||7-9 Peach Belt||Kevin Harrington Second-Team All-League|
|2004-05||USC Upstate||24-8||13-3 Peach Belt||NCAA Tournament, 2nd Round|
|2005-06||USC Upstate||20-10||12-8 Peach Belt||NCAA Tournament, 1st Round|
|2006-07||USC Upstate||17-11||9-7 Atlantic Sun||First Division I Victory over SMU|
|2007-08||USC Upstate||7-23||5-11 Atlantic Sun||First Atlantic Sun Victory over Gardner-Webb|
|2008-09||USC Upstate||9-21||8-12 Atlantic Sun||Bobby Davis Second-Team All-Conference|
|2009-10||Georgia Southern||9-23||6-12 Southern Conference||Best Recruiting Class in Southern Conference|
|2010-11||Georgia Southern||5-27||1-17 Southern Conference||Eric Ferguson Named Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year|
|2011-12||Georgia Southern||15-15||12-6 Southern Conference||Second Biggest Turnaround in Southern Conference History|
|2012-13||Clemson||13-18||5-13 ACC||Devin Booker Earns Third-Team All-ACC Honors|
|2013-14||Clemson||23-13||10-8 ACC||NIT Semifinals|
|2014-15||Clemson||16-15||8-10 ACC||Defeated No. 18 Arkansas|
|2015-16||Clemson||17-14||10-8 ACC||Defeated No. 16 Louisville, No. 9 Duke, No. 8 Miami|
|2016-17||Clemson||17-16||6-12 ACC||NIT 1st Round|
|2017-18||Clemson||25-10||11-7 ACC||NCAA Tournament Sweet 16|
|2018-19||Clemson||20-14||9-9 ACC||NIT 2nd Round|
|2019-20||Florida State||26-5||16-4 ACC||ACC Champions|
|2020-21||Florida State||18-7||11-4||NCAA Tournament Sweet 16|