Shannon Smith is a 5-foot-7 junior that plays for Michigan’s women’s team.
She took a roundabout way getting into the program, originally enrolling at North Carolina before spending a JuCo year down in Texas, but she’s there now, which puts the Smith family in an awkward position.
Her father, Kevin, played at Michigan State.
He’s a Spartan.
Whose daughter is now a Wolverine.
That’s a tough thing for a college sports fan to reconcile, but the elder Smith has a soft spot in his heart for Michigan. A local kid that once hit a halfcourt prayer to force overtime in a high school state title game against Magic Johnson, Smith originally committed to play for Michigan. He did so on a visit to the school with Magic. And Magic committed then, too. From Mike McCabe:
“I didn’t know if anyone knew that,” [Shannon] Smith said in a whisper. “Him and Magic committed to come here.”
Yes, they did, but it never became public knowledge.
“We were sitting in the stands next to Rick Leach,” Kevin said of the former U-M quarterback. “We looked at each other and we said: ‘We’re coming here. Roommates.’ ”
The plan never came to fruition, as Kevin ended up at Detroit for a year playing for Dick Vitale before transferring to Michigan State. And Magic? Well, he became a Spartan and led them to a national title win in one of the greatest college basketball games ever played, a battle with Larry Bird’s Indiana State team that launched a rivalry that ended up lasting a decade in the NBA.
And to think, it all could have been for naught.
If only Magic had ended up where he originally committed.