Nate Smith completed his third season as Sacramento State’s director of basketball operations in 2015-16, and fifth as a member of the staff. He also served two years as the team manager from 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.
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 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.
The Hornets were ranked in the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Poll for the first time in school history (ranking as high as 14th), and the team finished just one game back of first place in the Big Sky standings, narrowly missing out on the program’s first conference championship since 1977. Sacramento State also won nine straight home games at one point, and completed the year with a 13-2 home record, tied for the most home wins in program history (1948-pres.).
Though the team went 14-17 overall and 6-12 in the Big Sky during a 2015-16 rebuilding season, the Hornets have now won at least 14 games four consecutive years after reaching the 14-win plateau just once the 22 previous years.
Off the court, the Hornets have excelled in the classroom during Smith’s tenure. In fact, the Hornets have posted a team grade point average of better than 3.0 three times in the last four semesters. Prior to the start of that run in the spring of 2014, the men’s basketball program had never posted a 3.0 gpa during any semester in school history. The team currently has a cumulative grade point average of 3.02.
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 will spearhead Sacramento State’s summer camps for the third straight year. 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.
Smith played four years of high school basketball at Sylvania Southview High School in Ohio, where he was a three-year member of the varsity squad.
Smith graduated from Sacramento State in the fall of 2014 with a degree in kinesiology.