Winthrop Men's Basketball Receives Gift From Ish Smith Family Foundation
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Winthrop Men's Basketball Receives Gift From Ish Smith Family Foundation

January 22, 2020

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ish Smith, a former Wake Forest star and All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer, was recruited by Winthrop Head Men's Basketball Coach Pat Kelsey during his time as an assistant with the Demon Deacons.
  • The organization was founded by the family of current NBA point guard Ish Smith of the Washington Wizards. Its primary focus is to support and provide resources for student-athletes to become successful.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University Athletics has received a $100,000 gift to the men's basketball program from the Ish Smith Family Foundation, according to Ken Halpin, the university’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics.

“We cannot thank the Ish Smith Family Foundation enough for this generous gift which will go far in supporting excellence in our men’s basketball program,” Halpin said. “The lasting relationship between Ish and Coach Kelsey is a great reminder why we do what we do in college athletics.”

The organization was founded by the family of current NBA point guard Ish Smith of the Washington Wizards. Its primary focus is to support and provide resources for student-athletes to become successful.

Smith, a former Wake Forest star and All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer, was recruited by Winthrop Head Men's Basketball Coach Pat Kelsey during his time as an assistant with the Demon Deacons. 
 
"The Smith family is very special to me," said Kelsey. "The first time I met Ish's parents, Gwen and Larry, it was obvious why he was such a wonderful person. They are faith-filled people and are passionate about helping others.”

Kelsey said he is humbled by the family’s generosity. “I love Ish like a son and have always said that he has an aura and an energy about him that is special and unique…he lights up a room when he enters,” Kelsey said. “Well, I can promise you, he gets it honestly. Ish is a great example to the young men in our program of how to be successful on and off the court. The Smith Family's contribution to our program will help current and future student-athletes in a major way."

The bond between Smith and Kelsey was formed and forged during the recruiting process at Wake Forest and has continued to grow over the years.
 
"Coach Kelsey believed in me when many did not," said Smith. "I was a skinny little guard from Central Cabarrus High School that lacked the rankings and accolades of many of my peers. He saw something in me and poured into my development on and off the court. We love each other. I am excited that my family can give back to Coach Kels and his players at Winthrop to help them succeed on and off the court."
 
Both Smith and Kelsey played for former Xavier and Wake Forest Coach Skip Prosser, and both view the late coach as a major mentor in their lives.
 
"Coach Prosser was like a father figure to Coach Kels and me, and he had a tremendous impact on our lives," said Smith. “Everyday he said, ‘It's all about developing the ABC's:  academics, basketball, and character.’ That is so much what my family's foundation is about."

For more information, contact Brett Redden, director of communications for athletics, at (803) 323-2129, ext. 6246 or e-mail him at reddenb@winthrop.edu.

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Last Updated: 2/18/20