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Winningest basketball coach in OHS history to join Hall of Fame

The late Ian Smith will be inducted into the OHS Hall of Fame. (click for larger version)
September 08, 2010 - Ian Smith defined the term success for Oxford basketball coaches.

He is the most successful basketball coach in Oxford High School history, but is also one of the most successful in the state of Michigan.

It was that success that earned him a spot as one of the charter members of the Oxford High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

The Gary, Indiana native came to Oxford in 1975 after serving in the United States Navy, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education and a minor in History from Wayne State University, where he played basketball on a scholarship.

In addition to instructing young minds on the court, he was also developing young minds in the history classroom and came to be known as one of the district's most outstanding educators.

Smith went 19-40 during his first three season's as head coach of the three-year-old Varsity girl's basketball program.

But he turned it around in year four.

Over the next 24 seasons, the Wildcats would finish with a winning record. Smith's teams would win 20 or more games 14 times and during the mid-1980's, his teams won 72 consecutive games at home.

Even though he coached many great teams during his career, the high-water mark for the program came in 1981 when the varsity team finished 26-1, winning the North Oakland League title, as well as the Class 'B' District and Regional tournaments before falling to Marshall in the Michigan High School Athletic Association semi-finals.

Smith was named the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan (BCAM) Regional Coach of the year five times during his 27 year career.

His record stands at 493-135 (.785 winning percentage), which ranks him seventh among all girls' basketball coaches in the MHSAA record book.

He captured 13 league titles, including nine Flint Metro League Championships, 16 MHSAA District trophies and six MHSAA Regional championships.

In 1981 and 1986, the Wildcats reached Michigan's final four in Class B. In addition to winning both the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press Coach of the Year awards twice in his career, Smith served a leadership role on several MHSAA committees and coached six all-state first team players.

On January 30, 2006, Smith lost his battle with multiple myeloma cancer. He is survived by his wife Joanne. Today, OHS teams play sports in the "Ian Smith Gymnasium," named in the coaches honor.

He was inducted into the BCAM Hall of Fame in 2001.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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