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Named the Southern Conference Player of the Year after the 2021-2022 season, Malachi Smith was one of the top names in the transfer portal after closing out his career at Chattanooga. Helping the Mocs’ to a conference tournament win and NCAA Tournament appearance, teams throughout the nation flocked to Malachi hoping to bring his sharpshooting and all-around game to their team. After making the decision to transfer to Gonzaga, Malachi has been guided by faith as he has helped lead the Zags to another impressive year.

Photo Courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics
Smith, a native of Belleville, Illinois, says that his faith has always been an important part of his life. Throughout his childhood, he says faith helped him and his family through adversity in numerous ways.

“My mom and dad instilled faith into me at a young age. My mom and I had struggles growing up that grew our faith stronger together. It did not always look promising for us but we knew that trusting in God and having faith in what we didn’t see was going to ultimately get us through whatever struggles we had. Faith has always been and always will be the most important thing to me.”

After beginning his collegiate career at Wright State, Smith became a star at Chattanooga when he transferred to the Mocs and finished last season averaging nearly 20 points and 7 rebounds a game. As he has brought his skills to Gonzaga, he has been a key contributor in each game this season for the Bulldogs. On the court, Malachi says that his faith is something that guides him in every game and practice.

“Faith plays a huge role in my basketball career. I wouldn’t have made it this far if my faith was not as strong as it is.”

Malachi says that the game of basketball has brought with it trials, but through faith Malachi has always been able to push through.

“The game of basketball will bring you adversity and test your love for the game. My faith is what keeps me going.”

Photo Courtesy of Gonzaga Athletics
Although Malachi now plays for one of the top teams in the country, the road to get to where he is was not an easy one. As he looks back on the process, he says he knows it has all worked out just as it was supposed to. His biggest piece of advice to kids watching him now is to trust that process and to always believe in you.

“I just hope to inspire other kids who feel like they can’t make it to not give up on themselves. I’ve been told thousand of times I would never make to this point and here I am.”

With critics at every level, Malachi says he has learned to tune those voices out and instead focus on the worth that God has given him.

“People are always going to have doubts about you but you have to block that out and have the utmost belief in yourself.”

As Malachi and the Bulldogs prepare for the upcoming NCAA tournament, they look to bring home the first national championship ever for the program. With the platform he has, Malachi says he hopes to everyday make a difference. Regardless of win or loss, Malachi is grateful for the chance to play the game that he loves and through it point others to God.


Ethan Kruse

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