In leading the storied basketball program at Simeon, Robert Smith has accomplished everything he possibly could as a coach.
Well, just about everything.
After winning six state championships, producing dozens of Division I players and two future NBA lottery picks and compiling a career mark of 301-47 while turning Simeon into a national program in his 11 years, Smith added one more major accomplishment on Wednesday: being named coach of the illustrious McDonald’s All-American game.
“I’m just proud to be part of a tradition that includes future, past and present Olympians, NBA and WNBA stars,” says Smith. “The best part is all the proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. It’s great to know the participation in this game is for a great cause.”
The McDonald’s All-American Basketball Games have helped raise more than $10 milliin for Ronald McDonald House Charities in the United States since the games inception in 1978. In the last three years, the McDonald’s All-American Games hosted in Chicago have generated nearly $1.7 million in proceeds.
The 2015 McDonald’s All-American Game will be played in Chicago at the United Center on April 1, with Stevenson’s Jalen Brunson the lone Illinois representative selected to play in the game.
“It means a lot to play against players of this caliber, and it’s a blessing and I’m honored,” Brunson told ESPNU on the live announcement early Wednesday evening. “I will go and represent my family, my school and the city of Chicago.”
Brunson follows a recent Chicago basketball hierarchy who have all been chosen for the game, including Jahlil Okafor, Cliff Alexander, Tyler Ulis, Jabari Parker, Anthony Davis, Wayne Blackshear, Michael Dunigan, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose.
St. Joseph coach Gene Pingatore, the all-time leader in coaching wins in state history, was the McDonald’s All-American Game coach in 2011, along with Dorothy Gaters of Marshall on the girls side. Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty was named the coach of the 2013 McDonald’s game.
Smith stated it’s far from an individual accomplishment. He was quick to recognize why he’s in the position of being selected as coach for the 38th annual McDonald’s game, citing the players and coaches he’s had during his time and before him at Simeon.
“This really is about the players that have been in the program and all the coaches we’ve had here, during my time and before,” Smith pointed out. “It goes to show how hard work pays off. I thank all the people in Chicago who have supported me. This is a great recognition for not only Simeon but the for basketball in the city of Chicago.”
“I just thank them [the McDonald’s committee] for even thinking about having me as a coach,” said Smith, whose team is 17-2 this season. “It’s a great accomplishment and a tremendous honor, and I’m so appreciative of the opportunity.”