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Charlie Smith was 'Mr. Clutch' at ODU

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: May 07, 2007
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May 7, 2007

Smith was 'Mr. Clutch' at ODU Former Concord standout inducted to Delaware Afro-American Hall of Fame

By JACK IRELAND, The News Journal Posted Sunday, April 22, 2007

Paul Webb had a number of outstanding basketball players during his coaching career at Old Dominion University and Randolph-Macon College.

When it came to a big-time clutch player, Webb said there wasn't anyone better than the late Charlie Smith.

Smith, a Concord High graduate, was inducted to the Delaware Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame during ceremonies Saturday night at the Modern Maturity Center in Dover.

Smith played four seasons at ODU and was team captain his senior year. He scored 1,206 career points, helping the Monarchs to three NCAA Division I tournaments. His teammates included Mark West and Kenny Gattison, who went on to have successful NBA careers.

Smith, a diabetic, died at age 35 following heart surgery in 1998.

"Charlie was Mr. Clutch," said Webb, who is retired and still living in Norfolk, Va., the site of Old Dominion. "He could be having an off night, but would step up and hit the big shot at the end of a game. He was really clutch at the foul line. Charlie was everybody's favorite. He was class on and off the basketball court."

Smith's widow, Harriet (Smith) Williams, daughter Natasha, who will enroll at Old Dominion this fall, and his mother, Irene Smith Turner, attended the induction. Five of Smith's six brothers were there.

Smith scored 1,060 points in three varsity seasons at Concord. He was a two-time first- team All-State player and chosen 1981 state player of the year. Concord was 60-6 during his career, winning its only boys basketball state title in 1979.

Smith averaged 26 points, 4.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds a game his senior year. Concord retired his No. 20 in 1998.

"I believe Charlie was one of the best shooters in the history of Delaware high school basketball," said Mark Sills, who grew up with Smith in Wilmington. "There was no 3-point line when he played high school. Can you imagine how many points he would have scored? He could shoot the lights out. Charlie was a good defender and shot-blocker because he had such long arms."

At 6-foot-3, Smith was a physical mismatch for most high school guards.

"It was just his entire floor game," Concord coach Rick Albertson told The News Journal in a March 1981 story. "Out of all the players we've had at Concord, he was the most consistent, game in and game out. People did all sorts of extra things to stop him, but it never seemed to matter. He set a great example for the other players and went hard in every practice."

Sills said Smith's basketball success didn't change him.

"He was a loyal friend with integrity," Sills said. "He was a person you could always depend on. We started playing basketball at the local park together when we were 12. As we got older, we went to recreation centers. I always wanted to be on his team. That meant you would stay on the court all day long."

Copyright ©2007, The News Journal.

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