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Terence Smith: Managing things on and off the court

By Kristen Harrelson
On January 16, 2013

Basketball has been in the lives of the American people since the late 1800s and has only been picking up steam. UTM's men's basketball team has been full of young men who have loved the sport since they were children.

Terence Smith is one of them. He grew up watching Michael Jordan, and his parents were basketball coaches in Russellville, Ala. Because of his love of basketball, he played through middle school and high school. He came to UTM, because it was like his home back in Alabama.

"I'm also from a small town, and it's close to home. My family can come watch me play, and I love the environment," Smith said.

When he knew basketball was his calling, his parents were his backbone.

"They helped me. If I asked to go to the gym, they'd come with me and help me. All of us played a big part. My dad and I used to go to the gym and just work out," Smith said.

Practice made perfect. According to, Smith was rated by ESPN as the 10th best prospect in Alabama, and the fouth-best shooting guard prospect in the state. He played for his father when he represented his state in the 20th annual Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic that took place in Pelham, Ala.

As a high school player, he led his team to 32 consecutive victories, as well as two area championships. The team was regional champions and state runner-up in 2008. When he graduated Russellville High School, he was the school's all-time leading scorer.

Smith played his freshman year, coming in with teammate Mike Liabo. He became the floor leader for the Skyhawks, starting 28 games and playing in all 33 games of the season.

"I knew it was going to be rough. Coach needed a lot of us to step up as freshman, such as Mike and I. We were thrown into the fire early. Towards the end of the season, we really weren't freshmen anymore. We played so much and were in really big games," Smith said.

According to, he led the team in minutes played with 1,042, and in assists with 103. He was named OVC Fresheman of the Week on Dec. 27, 2010, and Jan. 31, 2011. Also he was named to the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll.

"My mom stays on me about my grades. I try to do good in classes," Smith said.

Coming into his sophomore year, he was ready for the season. He was strong in practices and was looking good when one day he collapsed.

"I was at the first or second practice, and I passed out. I had to wait for test results to come back to see if I could play again," Smith said.

After the tests came back, he was diagnosed with a heart condition that was borderline of athlete's heart, or an over-conditioned heart. He sat out his sophomore year but was granted a medical redshirt. The fact that he couldn't play didn't deter him academically. Once again, he was named to the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll.

He came back his junior year raring to go. He was looking good, but lightning struck a second time. This time it was his ankle that took damage.

"I was about to go up, and it just gave up on me. It was like the first play," said Smith.

Once again, Smith was out for the season. As he was healing, he had people he could turn to. The team, his family and his friends were behind him no matter what.

"It feels good that they have my back. It makes me want to go out there and play harder. I feel more comfortable that they have my back [when] I'm not 100 percent. They kept a smile on my face when I was down my sophomore year and then again with this new injury," Smith said.

Still not at a 100 percent, Smith has returned to help his team. Recently, the Skyhawks played Murray State. It seemed at the game that the team on the court wasn't the team they saw in practice. It looked as if they weren't ready to play. The look of the team resulted in a loss. But the team rallied and they had a comeback victory against the Austin Peay Governors, ending a seven game losing streak.

"The win let us know that we've got to keep fighting and play hard with every possession. We've got to play with a sense of urgency and get over the hump. Once you get over the hump, you'll be alright," Smith said.

When he came to UTM, he knew what he wanted to do. Smith is working on a double major in management and marketing. He had to balance his classes and his basketball schedule. He has dreams when he leaves UTM.

"I want to go to the next level in basketball, or I want to start a small business," Smith said.

When Smith isn't in class or on the court, he enjoys hanging out with his teammates, relaxing or playing video games. His favorite foods are macaroni and cheese, grilled shrimp and fish. In life he is a calm and laid-back guy, which shows on the court.

"I like to keep things calm," Smith said.

On the court he has an excellent eye for his surroundings and his teammates. He can handle the ball with surety only a disciplined athlete can muster. He keeps his cool in stressful situations. Sometimes it can be his worst aspect.

"Sometimes Coach doesn't like me being so laid-back on the court. Sometimes he wants me to be more vocal and come out of my comfort zone a little more," Smith said.

Since his injury, Smith has  had to stretch even more before games. He has also had to tape his ankle to keep from injuring it further. Like all athletes, Smith has some before-the-game prep he does that is all his own.

"I really don't have any before-game superstitions. I just stretch a little extra. I warm up in, like, three different shirts every time I come out. By game time my shirt is dry. Then I change shirts at halftime," Smith said.

Being part of a team has helped Smith overcome plenty of struggles in his life, mainly during his injuries. During it all, he has never lost faith.

"Basketball can be applied to life. You're going to face adversity. Always fight through it no matter what the circumstances are. Things won't always go your way, but you just got to keep pushing. Good things will come your way," Smith said.

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