It’s senior night for the Buffalo Bulls, and today we get to honor, three seniors: Wes Clark, Ikenna Smart, and Gabe Agorioge. These three are a unique bunch of seniors, in the fact that Clark has been here one semester, Agorioge one year, and Smart four years, with him only playing three. This first article, will be looking at the career of Ikenna Smart, and some of the highlights from each year!
Freshman Year (Red Shirted)
Smart came to the University at Buffalo in 2015, under coach Bobby Hurley. Smart was not a basketball player, rather he was a soccer player who was being converted as many people know. The red shirt year was a good idea, so that Smart could practice more at the division one level, and adjust to the speed and size of the collegiate game.
While Smart didn’t play, he was still on the roster for the Bulls first ever NCAA Tournament bid, and was a crucial part of the scout team due to his size. He gained valuable experience this year, which he used as the building block for the rest of his Bulls career.
Smart decided to stay once Bobby Hurley left, something that many of his teammates chose not to do. Smart was put in to the starting role quickly due to his size. While he struggled at times staying out of foul trouble, he still was a hard worker inside, trying to improve his game. He struggled with fouling, but still managed to shoot 54% from the field and helped the Bulls go to their 2nd ever NCAA Tournament.
Ikenna Smart was once again starting for the Bulls, who were looking to defend their title for the third straight year. He improved inside shooting his career best 63% from inside. He also cut down on his fouling, even though he saw a decrease in some of his minutes with the rise of MAC 6th MOTY Nick Perkins. He was still a valuable part of the offense even though the Bulls fell short in Cleveland. He seemed to be finding his stride and had Bulls fans excited.
Smart started this season on the bench, after having off season back surgery. He missed the first nine games of the season and most of the off season, which may have caused some of his struggles this season. He did however go back home to Nigeria before the season, and bring shoes to underprivileged kids. He won the sportsmanship award for his efforts and showed that some times things go beyond basketball. Smart is electing to graduate after this season, and grad transfer somewhere closer to home in North Carolina for his last year of eligibility.
Ikenna Smart has been a wonderful member of the Buffalo community, even when he’s faced struggles on the court. Every time I’ve talked to him, he’s been as friendly as ever, and that has been echoed by all who have talked to him. He can be found at most every UB Sporting event, including rowing last season, which just shows that he cares about his fellow athletes. He will be missed, and we wish him luck on his future in basketball and life! Thanks Ikenna for all the good memories, and helping to be a fundamental part in the rise of Buffalo basketball!