Malachi Smith, considered one of the top players in the transfer portal, apparently is taking a close look at Gonzaga.
Smith, who led Chattanooga in scoring, assists and steals while earning Southern Conference Most Valuable Player honors, is considering Gonzaga and Texas Tech, but On3 recruiting analyst Jamie Shaw projected the Zags as the favorite with 75% confidence. On3’s recruiting prediction machine listed GU as Smith’s future destination at 99.9%. Those projections were made prior to guard Rasir Bolton’s announcement Tuesday that he is returning to Gonzaga next season.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Smith declared for the NBA draft in early April and put his name in the transfer portal about three weeks later. Smith, who worked out for Boston, Brooklyn and Sacramento, seriously considered turning pro, even without a draft promise, according to Shaw.
The deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft is Wednesday. Smith didn’t receive an invite to the NBA draft combine or the G League Elite Camp. He visited Gonzaga on Monday, Shaw reported.
ESPN has Smith at No. 6 in its transfer rankings. He’s 11th according to CBS Sports and 18th in On3’s ratings.
Smith averaged 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals as a junior. He had 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the Southern Conference championship win over Furman and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
He made just 4 of 20 field-goal attempts, but posted 12 points, eight boards and three steals in a first-round loss to Illinois in the NCAA Tournament. Smith scored a season-high 36 points on 14-of-17 shooting in a loss to Murray State.
Smith, who is from Belleville, Illinois, averaged 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds as a freshman at Wright State.
After sitting out one season under NCAA transfer rules, Smith was first-team All-SoCon while averaging 16.8 points and 8.8 boards in 2020-21. He declared for the draft after his sophomore year before deciding to return to Chattanooga.
Smith averaged 35.6 minutes and connected on nearly 40% of his 3-point attempts in two seasons at Chattanooga.