Tre Smith faces a serious renovation project. And he knows it.
But the 25-year-old former University of Utah basketball player says he’s the right guy to overhaul the program that produced him. A former star at Cyprus High School in Magna, Smith officially accepted the job as the Pirates boys’ basketball coach this week.
Having been part of the basketball program for the last three years and helping coach the junior varsity levels, Smith said his relationship with the young talent in the community propelled him to throw his hat in the ring.
"I just wanted to give it a shot," he said. "It was definitely time for a change, and I think with that, I was the first person for the job."
The first major step for Smith will come in implementing his style and stamp on the program that has won a total of 12 games over the last four seasons. The Pirates went 2-21 in 2013-14.
"The culture of the program has definitely taken a nosedive at this point," Smith said. "The challenge is trying to change the culture of the program, to build the community for these kids so they feel confident and win basketball games. We have to get it to where the kids feel confident."
Cyprus High Principal Rob McDaniel said Smith’s work with the younger athletes in the community in Magna stood out of the 20 applicants for the job.
"When we opened up the job, I just started receiving a huge amount of outpouring from community members, students and parents saying, ‘We really hope you’ll consider Tre,’" McDaniel said. "And they were unsolicited. They felt that their experiences with him have always been really positive."
Smith said the JV teams in recent years have had talented kids, adding that the youngsters showed promise toward the end of the season in 2013-14, which gives him and his new staff something to look forward to next year.
And at 25, Smith immediately becomes one of the youngest head coaches in Utah. But he says that could work to his advantage.
"I truly believe — and I’ve been telling a lot of people this lately — I think these days, a lot of athletes want players’ coaches," Smith said. "They want guys that have been there, guys that have done it before. I’ve been on a number of basketball teams: I’ve been on bad, mediocre and championship teams. As a younger person, I can bring a lot of energy to our team."
At Utah from 2007 to 2010, Smith was part of Jim Boylen’s 2009 Mountain West Conference Tournament-winning team in 2009 when the Utes beat San Diego State to earn a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament that year. He graduated from Utah in 2010 with a degree in sports management.
For Smith and the Pirates, the work starts now to avoid another dreadful season.
"My job is to instill confidence in kids," Smith said. "Every time we step out on the court, we’re going to play like we’re the best team out there."
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