Our SU Top 100 list adds yet another basketball great. While he’s not talked about as much as he should be, Bill Smith was one of the best players in Syracuse history. The 6-foot-11 big averaged a double-double in all three of his seasons with the varsity team. He was also incredibly skilled around the basket, never hitting less than 57 percent of his field goals in his three years.
In a two game spree in January of 1971, Smith had the best back-to-back performances in SU history. On January 12, Smith scored 28 points and grabbed a career high 30 rebounds against American University. Two days later, Smith set a different career high. Against Lafayette University Smith dropped 47 points. To this date that’s still the Syracuse school record. Only Dave Bing came close to breaking it, with a 45 and 46 point performance.
While Smith’s career was filled with highs, there were some lows as well. Valentine’s Day in 1970 was one of those lower moments. Syracuse was on the road at Morgantown, West Virginia, facing off against West Virginia University. After Syracuse pulled back from behind to take a three point lead, WVU went on a spree of their own. With just over a minute left, the Mountaineers had taken back the lead and were ahead by 10. Smith had just picked up his fifth foul and decided to swing on the ref.
His teammate, Bob McDaniel – who had been ejected seven seconds earlier – leapt off the bench and joined Smith in the beating of ref Herb Young. That led to a brawl between the teams.
Besides this low moment for Smith, he had a remarkable career at Syracuse. Upon graduation, Smith ranked second in points scored all-time, just behind Bing. He was also second all-time in rebounds, behind only Jon Cincebox.
He was then selected by the Portland Trailblazers with the 42nd overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft, and played two seasons.