MO State HS Sports

Willie Smith Named to 2024 SEC Legends Class

Willie Smith

The first men’s basketball player at the University of Missouri to earn conference player of the year accolades, Willie Smith is being honored as a 2024 SEC Men’s Legend Presented by Allstate, the conference announced on Wednesday.

The annual SEC Basketball Legends class will be honored at the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament from March 13-17 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. Each legend will be recognized during halftime of their team’s first game of the tournament, as well as a group introduction at halftime of the first semifinal game on Saturday.

The 1976 Big Eight Player of the Year led the league in scoring with 25.3 points per game, a Tiger record, and logged 783 total points, the second most in a season in MU history. Smith keyed Mizzou’s run to its first outright basketball conference championship in 46 years as a senior when the Tigers won the Big Eight crown in 1976.

Smith also led the 1975-76 squad to its first Elite Eight appearance since 1944, a run that saw the Tigers beat No. 11 Washington and No. 16 Texas Tech, before Smith put up 43 points in the Elite Eight match versus No. 9 Michigan, a program-high in an NCAA Tournament game.

Smith, who also earned Big Eight Newcomer of the Year accolades in 1975, totaled 1,387 points in just 58 career games, placing him top-20 all-time at MU and the most ever by a two-year player.

After he was honored as an All-American in his senior season, he was selected in the second round of the 1976 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. Smith also spent time with the Indiana Pacers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Cleveland Cavaliers. His penultimate season in Portland saw the guard shoot 52.3% from the field.

Smith’s No. 30 jersey was retired by Mizzou in 1991, and he was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, a year that also saw fellow Tigers Derek Chevious and Jon Sundvold get inducted.

The SEC’s 2024 legend class also includes Richard Hendrix, Alabama; Derek Hood, Arkansas; Cliff Ellis, Auburn; Taurean Green, Florida; Rashad Wright, Georgia; Orlando “Tubby” Smith, Kentucky; Darrel Mitchell, LSU; Dwayne Curtis; Ole Miss; Timmy Bowers; Mississippi State; Joe Rhett, South Carolina; Chris Lofton, Tennessee; Elston Turner, Texas A&M; Frank Seckar, Vanderbilt.

This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics