Nate Smith will enter his first season as assistant coach with the program after spending the previous four years (2013-17) as director of basketball operations. The 2017-18 season will mark his seventh year as a member of the staff as Smith was 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.
Sacramento State has also won at least 13 games each of the last five years, the first time that has happened in 43 years when the Hornets ran off seven straight seasons from 1966-73. In addition, the Hornets have won Big Sky Tournament games three consecutive years (2015-17) for the first time ever. Moreover, the team has 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 52-19 combined record (.732 winning percentage) inside the Nest over the last five years. That includes at least 10 home wins in four of the last five years.
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 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.).
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 five 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 3.008.
Of the 18 players that have expired their eligibility during Smith’s tenure with the Hornets, 17 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 will spearhead Sacramento State’s summer camps for the fourth 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.
He graduated from Sacramento State in the fall of 2014 with a degree in kinesiology. Smith and his wife, Anna, have a daughter, Vivienne, who was born in October of 2016.