Sul Ross State hires ULM legend

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UL-Monroe retired EJ Lee Smith’s jersey in 2014.
Photo by UL-Monroe athletics

Sul Ross State has hired two-time Division I All-American Eun Jung “EJ” Lee Smith as its new head women’s basketball coach. Smith, who was one of the premier point guards in college basketball during the 1980s, will try to lead Sul Ross State into ASC title contention.

“We are so honored to have someone with coach Smith’s experience join our staff. Her basketball intelligence is incredible and she has a genuine love for the game of basketball,” said Sul Ross State Athletic Director Amanda Workman in the University’s press release.

EJ Lee Smith’s basketball career started in Gimje, South Korea where she played semiprofessionally and was a top pick out of high school. Her play there earned her a scholarship to what was then Northeast Louisiana University (now UL-Monroe). She played four seasons and was the Southland Conference Player of the Year in each of them.

Dubbed the “Korean Magic Johnson” by Sports Illustrated, the five-foot-six point guard led ULM to the Division I NCAA Tournament three times, including the 1985 Final Four and a No. 2 finish in the Associated Press basketball poll that season. ULM went 102-15 during Smith’s playing career.

After graduating in 1985, Smith played professionally in Italy and Sweden before returning to UL-Monroe where she eventually worked as an assistant women’s basketball coach for 13 years. She spent 30 seasons overall at ULM and then coached high school basketball at River Oaks High School in Monroe, Louisiana the last three seasons

“I got really excited because I’ve always dreamed of going back to college,” she said in the University’s release. “I feel like I can do really well over there. A lot of good players are returning. I think I can help them to get even better.”

Smith fills the vacancy created when Katie Novak departed Sul Ross State to become the new head coach at Division II Hawaii Pacific University.

Sul Ross State went 14-12, 10-10 in the ASC and lost in the first round of the ASC tournament.

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