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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Walk-on Greg Smith fulfills Division I dreams

Junior+Greg+Smith+in+warmups+against+Old+Dominion+University.+PHOTO%3A+LUKE+MALANGA+%E2%80%9920%2FTHE+HAWK
Junior Greg Smith in warmups against Old Dominion University. PHOTO: LUKE MALANGA ’20/THE HAWK

Before landing himself a spot as a St. Joe’s men’s basketball walk-on, junior guard Greg Smith had an unconventional journey to playing Division I basketball.

Smith played four years of varsity basketball for Rutgers Prep High School in New Jersey, a school that frequently graduates Division I talent. He was the leading scorer his senior year, averaging 8.6 points per game.

He himself was never offered a scholarship, but Smith said playing alongside these high-caliber players gave him the confidence that he needed to know he could play on a Division I team. 

“A lot of my friends played at this level,” Smith said. “Playing with them all the time made me feel like I could be in this atmosphere as well.”

Smith had to be patient to get his chance.

“I just stayed persistent,” Smith said. “There were sometimes I didn’t want to work out throughout the process and I wasn’t really sure if I was going to play basketball, but I kept at it because I had a dream of playing Division I basketball.”

Smith came in freshman year, looking to walk onto the team. However, after doing spring workouts, he didn’t make the team.

He moved back to New Jersey at the beginning of his sophomore year to be closer to his family.

Smith tried out for the team at Rutgers,  but did not make it and subsequently returned to St. Joe’s.

“I came back [to St. Joe’s] last semester, tried out this year, and then, God willing, everything worked out,” Smith said.

He said these two years solidified his determination to play at the Division I level.

Now that Smith is on the team, his work isn’t done. He wants to be able to support his team in every way possible.

Smith’s teammates don’t treat him like a walk-on. To them, he’s just another player on the team.

Kimble, the veteran guard of the group, said Smith still has a a vocal role and he’s not afraid to call his teammates out.

“Greg will definitely come up first to be the one to say something,” Kimble said.

Junior guard Toliver Freeman, a 2016 walk-on, said Smith’s personality meshes seamlessly with the rest of the team.

“It’s a perfect fit,” Freeman said. “Everyone loves him, he brings energy to practice, he has a great skill set. He’s just a really great addition to the team.”

Smith said he was accepted by the guys on the team immediately.

“I’ve been friends with the guys on the team since Freshman year,” Smith said. “They welcomed me like I was any other player.”

Even while he remains a practice player for now, Smith said that he is going to continue to work hard to be prepared for whenever his number is called.

“I’m just gonna try to help in any way I can and stay ready for whenever my teammates need me,” Smith said.

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