EUGENE F. SMITH ('52) --- 1982 Inductee ---lettered three years in basketball. Member of the Xavier 1,000-Point Club. Member of the XU Basketball Hall of Fame.
Gene "Middie" Smith was one of those 6-foot-5 centers who always seemed to be up against a taller opponent, but who no one felt sorry for. Smith was always in there hammering away for a layup or an inside rebound.
Smith finished his career as the school's all-time leading scorer with 1,109 points and a 16.8 ppg. average. He has since been pushed down to T34th on the all-time scoring list but his place in Xavier history is as strong as ever.
Despite his size at center, Smith led Xavier in scoring three straight years with averages of 15.8, 13.9, and 20.6 points a game.
His teammate, Don Ruberg, said, "He was a prolific scorer, who I remember as being on the unconventional side. He had many fakes and twists and always found a way to get the ball in the basket against much larger people.
"Although he was a wiry guy," Ruberg continued, "he was a good rebounder, too. Of course, he had to be in those years, because he was the only size we had."
Smith exploded for a career high 45 points in his senior year in a game against Georgetown (KY). He was the team captain and the leader in many ways for first-year head coach Ned Wulk, another XU Athletic Hall of Famer.
His junior year Smith led the Musketeers to a 16-10 record, the last year for head coach Lew Hirt. The slate might have been better but Xavier lost to powerful Kentucky twice, giving UK a great game one time in a 58-53 losing effort. Xavier did knock off Cincinnati that season, 54-53. Smith also played a great game against Bob Cousy and Holy Cross. Xavier led with two minutes left but Cousy took charge in the final minutes and Holy Cross pulled out a 54-51 victory over Xavier.
Smith came to Xavier from Hamilton Catholic High School, where he captured many honors. At Xavier he earned a reputation as an explosive scorer who liked to challenge any opponent, regardless of his size.
After graduating, Smith was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA Draft.
SMITH'S XAVIER CAREER STATS
HIGH POINT GAME: 45 vs. Georgetown, Ky. (1952)