Alcorn basketball legend Larry Smith to receive 2019 SWAC Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award

One of Alcorn State University’s most notable former student-athletes will be recognized for the historical imprint he left on the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC).

Larry Smith, director of Athletic Development, will receive the 2019 SWAC Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award Friday, Dec. 20, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta. Smith will receive the award during the annual Legends Roast and Awards Dinner at noon. The award is given to those who have contributed to the progress of the SWAC’s athletic heritage.

Smith was a star on Alcorn’s basketball team, averaging 16.7 points and 11 rebounds between 1976-80. He led the NCAA in rebounds his senior year and helped lead the Braves to three SWAC regular-season championships, two SWAC tournament championships, one NCAA Tournament appearance, and one berth to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT). The two-time SWAC Player of the Year was drafted in the second round of the 1980 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors and went on to have a 13 season career, including stints with the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. In his first season in the league, Smith led all rookies in rebounds averaging 12.1 grabs a game and was named to the NBA’s All-Rookie Team. 

He later served as an assistant coach with the Rockets from 1993-2002, helping the franchise capture two NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. Smith also served as an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. He served as Alcorn’s head men’s basketball coach from 2008-2011 and was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 1995.

The humble Alcorn legend said that the good news was a pleasant surprise. He is grateful to everyone that views him as an impactful leader of the SWAC.

“I was at a loss for words when I got the news,” said Smith. “This is an unbelievable honor, and I’m still trying to fathom that this is happening. The award is the highest honor possible, and it tops all of my other accomplishments. It’s truly an honor to have so many people think this highly of me.

Playing at Alcorn set the stage for Smith to have a tremendous NBA career. As he reflected on his journey, he’s grateful to his alma mater and the conference for allowing him to shine in front of a broad audience.

“This is a terrific conference, and to be a part of it has been great for me. The SWAC gave me, a kid from Rolling Fork, Mississippi, the opportunity to display my athletic gifts while gaining exposure for the university, the conference, and myself. I’m appreciative of my peers for thinking I am worthy of such a distinguished honor.

The award is legacy-defining for Smith. He credits everyone that played a role in highlighting the skilled athletes from the conference.

“I believe that our team had a big impact on the conference because of our early success and advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The impact our school and conference made led to other successes and more exposure. It made others realize the individual talent that the conference possessed, so it made things much better for athletes in the conference. I’m proud to have played a role in the progress of the conference.”