EIU’s Mack chasing NCAA record, fueled by difficult past

Sports

CHARLESTON (WCIA) — Mack Smith has his sights set on the future, but his vision is fueled by his past.

“I grew up in an area where there were gunshots every night, so to me it’s more than just basketball,” Smith said. “I’m glad that I came here.”

Eastern Illinois was Smith’s only Division I offer, and as a first-generation college student, he’s not taking the opportunity for granted. The Indianapolis-native plays in honor of several close friends that lost their lives due to acts of violence.

“It’s sad that they didn’t get to fulfill their dream, and that’s why I play for them on my heart and my shoes, and I just give it my all,” Smith said. “I just wish they was there to see me but I know they’re watching from above.”

Smith has put on nothing short of an impressive show. The junior guard made a name for himself early, setting the freshman single game scoring record. He’s also made a 3-point bucket for 67 consecutive games, ranking third all-time in the NCAA.

“I try not to think about it,” he said. “The more you think about it you’re more likely to fumble or mess up, so I just play in the rhythm of the game.”

“Everybody wants to get out there and do well, but you have to stay on the floor first, and he does all the other things that allow him to do that,” EIU head coach Jay Spoonhour said. “So I’m really proud of him, because he’s stuck with that stuff pretty well.”

The current record dates back to 2001, when former Illinois standout Cory Bradford had an 88-game streak. If Smith continues to make 3’s, he’s on pace to break the all-time mark next season. Regardless of what happens, the 6-foot-2 guard says he’ll never forget his humble beginnings.

“That’s my motivation, it’s what keeps me going.”

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