Making history again

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

When picking jersey numbers at the beginning of future basketball seasons, no Ute women’s player will ever be able to call dibs on No. 4 again.

That’s because Utah legend Kim Smith wore that number, and on Saturday-in the greatest honor a team can bestow upon a player-Smith’s No. 4 jersey will be retired and hung from the rafters at the Huntsman Center, forever memorializing her remarkable collegiate career. The ceremony is unprecedented-no Ute woman’s jersey has ever been retired in the history of the program.

Smith was the type of one-of-a-kind player that doesn’t come around too often. “She’s the most incredible individual I’ve coached in my career,” U head coach Elaine Elliott said. “She was such an absolute joy.”

Smith finished her career with a jaw-dropping list of accolades. She scored more points than any player in the history of the Mountain West Conference, led the league in scoring in both her junior and senior years and finished her career with 2,281 points-winning four-straight MWC Player of the Year awards along the way.

Along with her ability to put up big offensive numbers, she is also the only MWC player to pull down at least 1,000 rebounds in her career.

During her senior year, Smith and fellow standout Shona Thorburn willed their team all the way to the NCAA tournament’s Elite Eight, where they lost in an overtime heartbreaker to Maryland.

The tournament served as a national showcase for Smith’s talents. If the women’s basketball community didn’t know what Smith was capable of before, it knew now.

Shortly after her college career ended, the Associated Press named Smith a third-team All-American. No Ute had ever eclipsed the “honorable mention” plateau on the wire service’s All-America team.

Smith was selected No. 13 in the 2006 WNBA draft by the Sacramento Monarchs and became the second Ute drafted into the WNBA-beat out six picks earlier by teammate Thorburn, who had become a member of the Minnesota Lynx at No. 7 overall.

“(Smith) was a good leader but she wasn’t a vocal leader,” senior guard Heidi Carlsen said of her playing days with Smith. “She led by example.”

Carlsen said Smith was such a special player because “she worked her butt off.” Her desire to be a great player was always there and she put in the effort to maker her dream a reality. It rubbed off on her teammates, Carlsen recalled.

While other so-called great players often overlook the “little things” as they try to fill up the stat sheet, Morgan Warburton remembers that it was the details that Smith worked hardest at.

“That’s what I learned from her,” Warburton said. “To take advantage of the little things (and) never let up on a play.”

Smith’s jersey will be retired on Saturday when the Utes take on Colorado State at the Huntsman Center at 3 p.m.

File Photo

Kim Smith drives to the hoop during a regular-season game last year. Smith’s jersey will be retired Saturday when the Utes face Colorado State, marking the first retirement of a Utah women’s basketball player’s jersey.