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Smith top of class on hardwood

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By The Staff

In South Carolina, high school football has the legendary John McKissick.

His counterpart in Palmetto State hoops would likely be Great Falls High School’s John Smith.

McKissick is the legendary Summerville High School head football coach, who is the winningest prep football coach in the country.

Smith, a Lancaster native and a former Lancaster High School basketball star, stands just as tall in his respective sport.

Smith, in 40 seasons guiding the Red Devils, has more than 800 wins – an average of 20 victories a season.

He recently reached the hardwood pinnacle with a convincing win over McBee High School in Conference III-A play.

Smith has logged more than 1,000 games on the bench and has racked up more than 800 wins now.

Take time to mentally digest those figures and you can understand why this S.C. Coaches Association Hall of Famer is in a class by himself.

The achievement shows just what an icon Smith is because no other boys basketball coach in state  history has done as much or come close.

The lanky Smith takes it all in stride.

“It’s just a job,” Smith said. “I’m thankful I can go to work every day. I try not to get too high, or too low.”

Nevertheless, he’s at the top of his profession. He’s done so by stressing teamwork, solid fundamental play and that his players give their best effort each time the ball goes up.

Smith has garnered six state titles and has taken his team to the state title game nine times over a 10-year stretch.

“The personal stuff, maybe once I’ve retired I can look back and enjoy those things,” he said. “Right now, I’m more worried about the next game.”

Much of the credit, Smith deflects to the players.

“We’ve had a lot of great players,” he said. “It’s more about them.”

But Smith is the constant.

Players come and go, but he provides the needed guidance and coaching to help mold his teams to reach championships and land milestones.

As he says, which might be his secret, Smith keeps an even keel.

He draws little attention to himself. Case in point was when he reached win No. 743 to set a new mark for South Carolina boys career wins.

Smith only wanted Great Falls High and the Chester County to reap the benefit.

That’s just the way John Smith is.

His name even suggests a common figure, but what he does for his sport is extraordinary.

John Smith, as far as high school basketball, is in a class by himself.