Smith makes his name as "foundation" player

(KFVS) - Long before Marland Smith shot his way into the Southeast record books, he had a decision to make: play college ball at his choice of nearly a dozen schools, or follow Dickey Nutt to SEMO to play, at the time, for the lowest ranked basketball program in the country.

"I felt real comfortable with coach Nutt," Smith said. "Before he got the job here, me and Lucas (Nutt) and Logan (Nutt) played in the same conference in high school."

So Smith left Little Rock for Cape Girardeau. And in four years helped lead the Redhawks back to respectability.

"I look at him every day and I say the same thing, 'we're gonna miss that guy,'" said Redhawks head coach Dickey Nutt.

Smith has been a mainstay in the Redhawks lineup, and lately he's enjoying one of the best stretches of his career.

He's averaged 20 points he last 5 games, while breaking the school record for career three pointers.

"At the beginning of the season, a lot of the shots that I'm getting now, they weren't there, and I've been surprised a lot how open I've been the last couple of games."

Open shots help, but when the pre-season All-OVC player saw his game struggling, he got back to the basics.

"Three or four weeks ago I started going to the gym and putting up shots, and it finally paid off," Smith said.

His work ethic is just one reason Nutt calls Smith a foundation guy you build a program around.

"If we had 13 like Marland, we'd be happy campers," Nutt said.

"I'm a great character guy, and I try to do all the right things," Smith said.

Smith is soft-spoken, but like on the basketball court, when he gets going, it's hard to slow him down.

"Sometimes he just won't stop talking, he's pretty bad about telling a story, he just tells every little detail," said Redhawks senior guard Nick Niemczyk.

"If he tells me a story about him and his girl, he's going to give you every small detail. I'm sitting there waiting on him, alright Marland, what happened?" said Redhawks senior guard Corey Wilford.

"Sometimes Corey will ask me something, and if I tell him, he'll get to the point where he don't want to listen no more, so I'm like why are you asking me?" smith responded.

But as his days as a Redhawk wind down, he'll continue to let his play speak loudest.