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'It's a blessing to have this opportunity': Gonzaga snags commitment from Chattanooga transfer guard Malachi Smith

If you count returning players who were mulling turning pro, this is Gonzaga's fourth commitment in the last 72 hours.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Gonzaga added their second transfer of the offseason today as guard Malachi Smith announced he was coming into the fold.

The 6’4, 205 lb Chattanooga guard averaged 19.9 points per game last season while shooting 40.7% from three and 82.7% from the free throw line. He also averaged 6.7 rebounds, three assists, and 1.7 steals per game.

"Someone that does whatever it takes to win," Malachi said to KREM when asked to describe who he is as a player. "Whatever it takes offensively, defensively. I’m a team player, I'm there for my teammates, I always got my teammates back. I'm just someone that does whatever it takes to win."

He was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year last season. According to The Athletic, he was the #3 transfer available in the portal.

Malachi told ESPN that he expects to play point guard for the Zags, but he says he's willing to play whatever position the coaching staff wants him to.

"At the next level I'll be a guard that's going to be on ball and the point, but the way the game is going these days, everything's so interchangeable. I just want to help this team," said Smith.

Smith played his first season of college basketball at Wright State and then sat out a year and transferred to Chattanooga. Due to the extra Covid year, he has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

"I'm just proud of myself," said Smith of his climb through the NCAA ranks. "If a lot of people went through what I've been through, they would give up, they want to quit, and I never allowed myself to do that. It's a blessing to have this opportunity. This is something I never take for granted, and that's why I work so hard."

If you count returning players who were mulling going pro, this is Gonzaga's fourth commitment in 72 hours as Drew Timme, Julian Strawther, and Rasir Bolton all elected to return to school instead of going pro. Smith says them all returning is a testament to the program Gonzaga has established.

"Seeing those guys come back just shows the kind of team and the kind of culture they have for them to want to come back. That's just something I want to be a part of," said Smith.

Between those three returning and Smith joining up, many people have Gonzaga as their #1 team in the country heading into next season. Malachi sees that, but he's not letting that chatter let his head get big.

"Talking about it doesn't do anything," said Smith. "We got to put the work in. We got to come in from day one trying to prove and show that we're the best team in the country. Everyone that's coming back are high level players, and this team is just built on such a great foundation. That's why I just want to come in just help build upon that. Just be a part of that. It's going to start from work. Talking about it, posting about it, tweeting about it, that's not going do anything. We’ve got to work and make it happen ourselves."

    

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