Nate Smith has eight years of experince on Sacramento State’s coaching staff, including two years as an assistant (2017-pres.), four years as the director of basketball operations (2013-17) and two years as the team manager (2011-13).
Smith was part of a staff that saw the 2014-15 squad post a 21-12 overall record and a 13-5 mark in the Big Sky Conference while securing the program’s first postseason appearance in the Div. I era (1991-pres.), and the team’s first postseason victory in 53 years.
Sacramento State also won at least 13 games five straight years from 2012-17, the first time that happened in 43 years when the Hornets ran off seven straight seasons from 1966-73. In addition, the Hornets won Big Sky Tournament games three consecutive years (2015-17) for the first time ever. Moreover, the team posted three conference records of .500 or better during Smith’s tenure after the program had done so just twice in 27 years prior to his arrival.
The Hornets have also established a homecourt advantage that has seen the program post a 67-30 combined record (.690 winning percentage) inside the Nest over the last seven years. Also, during that time, the team is 42-24 (.636) at home against conference competition.
The Hornets’ overall record of 21-12 during the 2014-15 season marked the first time in the Div. I era that Sacramento State finished above the .500 mark, and first time since the 1988-89 season. In addition, the 21 wins were tied for second most in program history (1948-pres.), and the 13 conference victories were the most in school history (regardless of conference). All of this from a program that had entered the 2014-15 season with just three winning seasons in the previous 38 years.
The overall record marked the first time in the Div. I era that Sacramento State finished above the .500 mark, and first time since the 1988-89 season. In addition, the 21 wins were tied for second most in program history (1948-pres.), and the 13 conference victories were the most in school history (regardless of conference). All of this from a program that had entered the 2014-15 season with just three winning seasons in the previous 38 years.
After reaching the semifinal round of the Big Sky Tournament, the Hornets qualified for the 2015 CIT Postseason Tournament, marking the first time the program had qualified for a postseason event since the 1988 NCAA Div. II Tournament, and just the fifth postseason appearance in school history. Sacramento State’s 73-66 victory at Portland in the first round of the CIT marked the first time in 53 years the Hornets had won a postseason game.
Off the court, the Hornets have excelled in the classroom during Smith’s tenure. In fact, as of May of 2019, the Hornets are the only men’s basketball team from a public school in the state of California to earn NCAA Public Recognition honors. The award is given annually to institutions for having Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores that rank among the top 10 percent nationally. Not only are the Hornets the only public school in the state to achieve the award, they have received the honor three straight years (2017-19).
In addition, the Hornets have posted a term grade point average of better than 3.0 six times in the last 10 semesters. Currently, the Hornets have a team overall grade point average of 3.045. Prior to the start of the run of 3.0 term grade point averages in 2014, the men’s basketball program had never posted a 3.0 gpa during any semester in school history.
Perhaps the most impressive of the academic accolades - of the 25 Hornets that have expired their eligibility during Smith’s tenure, 24 have graduated.
During his first season as director of operations in 2013-14, the program showed signs of taking off when the Hornets not only posted a then school-record 10 conference wins, the team also clinched a Big Sky Tournament berth for the first time since 2006 and won 11 home games. One of the season’s highlights included Dylan Garrity’s 75-foot shot at the buzzer to defeat Weber State, and instantly gain national exposure for the program. Video of the shot went viral and was named the No. 1 play on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays that evening.
In addition, Smith spearheaded Sacramento State’s summer camps four straight years from 2014-17. He also worked the camps in 2012 and 2013.
Smith, who was born in Sacramento, became the Hornets’ team manager the day he stepped foot on campus in the fall of 2011.
He graduated from Sacramento State in 2014 with a degree in kinesiology. Smith and his wife, Anna, have a daughter, Vivienne, who was born in October of 2016.