Kansas State basketball signs Missouri graduate transfer Mark Smith

Senior shooting guard played three seasons at Missouri

Arne Green
Salina Journal
Former Missouri guard Mark Smith (13) has signed with Kansas State as a graduate transfer for the 2021-22 season.

Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber took a step toward addressing the Wildcats' perimeter shooting woes Wednesday with the signing of Missouri graduate transfer Mark Smith.

Smith, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard from Edwardsville, Illinois, is expected to graduate from Missouri in May and will be eligible for the 2021-22 season under NCAA graduate transfer rules.

"We're excited about the addition of Mark," Weber said in a statement. "Obviously we know him well from having recruited him out of high school, then again after he decided to leave Illinois. I guess you could say the third time's the charm."

Smith spent his freshman year at Illinois before transferring to Missouri, where he played in 69 games with 61 starts over the past three seasons. He has one more season of eligibility after the NCAA granted winter sports athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith started 24 of 26 games for Missouri this past season, ranking fourth on the team in scoring at 9.7 points per game and shooting 37.2% from the field, including 31.5% (40 of 127) from 3-point range. He also averaged 3.2 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals and was second on the team in minutes played at 29.5 per game.

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Missouri went 16-10 overall and 8-8 in the Southeastern Conference, advancing to the NCAA Tournament before being eliminated in the first round by Oklahoma.

"It was important for us as a staff (when adding players) to get more experience, especially with all the freshmen we played this year," said Weber, whose Wildcats went 9-20 overall and 4-14 in the Big 12 while often starting three freshmen. "Mark is someone who has great experience and has played at a high level in both the Big Ten and SEC and just started in an NCAA Tournament game.

"He knows how to difficult it is to play in a league like the Big 12 and how to prepare. We also needed more shooting and Mark, obviously, fits that bill. He is a really, talented shooter and, at one point, was one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. He knows how to make plays and set up his teammates to make plays.” 

K-State shot 29.6% from 3-point range this season and just 27% in 18 Big 12 games.

Smith's best season at Mizzou came as a sophomore in 2018-19, when he averaged 11.4 points, making 45% of his 3-point attempts, with 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. He missed 20 games with injuries as a sophomore and junior.

K-State associate head coach Chris Lowery was the primary recruiter in bringing Smith to Manhattan.

"First off, Mark has great experience," Lowery said. "He has started several high-level games in two different leagues. He has played in packed arenas, in hostile environments.

"The biggest thing about Mark is that he's made tough shots in tough situations. He's been a starter on an NCAA Tournament team. He'll just bring a level of steadiness and ease. He also has a high IQ and great understanding of how to play."

Smith was a four-star recruit out of high school in Edwardsville, where he was the 2017 Illinois Mr. Basketball and Illinois Gatorade Player of the year after averaging 21.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.4 assists as a high school senior.

Smith joins 6-10 high school center Logan Landers, who signed in November, as part of K-State's 2021 recruiting class. The Wildcats also have an oral commitment from 6-5 small forward Maximus Edwards, and senior guard Mike McGuirl announced last month that he will use his extra year of eligibility to return for another season.

Since the end of the season, K-State has lost four players to the transfer portal: sophomore guard DaJuan Gordon, sophomore forward Antonio Gordon, junior guard Rudi Williams and sophomore forward and former walk-on Joe Petrakis.