Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Smith back as UA assistant
Dykes hires program's most decorated player
Arkansas women's basketball assistant coach Christy Smith speaks during a news conference Monday, April 14, 2014 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Christy Smith, the most decorated player in Arkansas women's basketball history, has joined the Razorbacks' staff as an assistant coach.
Smith's hire was announced by coach Jimmy Dykes on Monday. She has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Purdue and three years before that at Valparaiso.
"I knew right away when I spoke with Christy that she shared the same passion and commitment to the Razorbacks that I do," Dykes said in a statement. "She knows what it is like to be a Razorback and she has taken that experience as a player and poured it into her coaching career in her home state of Indiana. I feel like Christy is returning to her second home here in Arkansas and I can't wait to begin working with her."
Smith is Dykes' first hire since he was named Arkansas' head coach on March 30. Dykes said he saw Smith's scouting reports first hand last month while calling a NCAA Tournament regional for ESPN at Purdue.
She takes over a position previously held by Nicki Collen, who wasn't retained following Tom Collen's firing last month. Smith will join Amber Shirey and Tari Cummings on the Arkansas staff. Shirey, also a former player at the school, was one of Smith's assistant coaches during her playing career for the Razorbacks.
Smith played four seasons at Arkansas, starting at point guard from 1994-98. She was named first-team all-SEC as a senior when she helped the Razorbacks to their only NCAA Final Four. She was a four-time honorable mention all-American, two-time second-team all-SEC selection and the 1995 SEC freshman of the year.
At Arkansas, Smith is ranked eighth in program history with 1,459 career points, fourth with 507 career assists and third with 239 career steals.
Smith was drafted by the WNBA's Charlotte Sting with the 17th pick in the 1998 draft and played two seasons professionally. She earned her master's degree in biomechanics from the UA in 2001.
"It's been 20 years since I signed on that line to be a Razorback and I'm just excited that I have an opportunity to come back here," Smith said. "There was no question that I wanted to come back and build this program to where we're the top of the SEC."