Ishmael Smith graciously accepted a change in role this season. He has spent the year coming off of the bench, a role in which he can be himself and still be a vital player for the Demon Deacons.
Favorite movie: American Gangster
Favorite pre-game music: Anything R&B
Favorite pre-game meal: Salmon and potatoes
Favorite place on campus: The gym.
When and how did you start playing basketball? My dad first put a ball in my hands when I was around 2 years old, at the time we were living in Charlotte. My dad is a huge basketball fan, he was a basketball player in college and my sister, used to play basketball and they were in the back playing basketball and we had a little Tyco goal and I remember just dunking on it and that's kind of how I started getting the feel of basketball and started liking it.
What made you choose basketball?
I guess because I was good at it and it was a way to pay for my education. I really love the game of basketball; it was something I was born liking and it has been in my family; basketball is the main source of conversation around our table. It has been birthed in me; it was a way to pay for my education and to be successful in life.
Why did you choose Wake Forest?
The first thing that comes to mind is the athletics, they have a great basketball program, Coach Prosser, Coach Gaudio and the coaching staff here have done a great job building this program to a powerhouse. When I saw that it caught my eye immediately. And then the small campus, there are 4,000 students here, the classes aren't as big and the academics are unbelievable here.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far as an athlete?
Probably my freshman year when I lead the ACC in assists, which was a big accomplishment. I think I might have been the first freshman in Wake Forest history to do that. I think we have many more to come if we continue to play as well as we have.
What do you still hope to accomplish in the future as an athlete?
I want to, hopefully, get on that first-team All-ACC list next year and hopefully be in some All-American talk next year but that is going to take a lot of hard work over the summer, but I don't want to talk about next year yet, we still have a long road ahead of us.
What's your most memorable moment in sports?
I would probably last year when I hit the game winning shot again Virginia Tech that was pretty special. I had never hit a game winning shot in college, the funny thing about it is that it happened a few weeks later I hit another game winning shot against Miami.
How have you changed since your freshman year, both athletically and personally?
I have grown up so much; it's been a dramatic change. Some of the decision making I would make my freshman year, I have totally done a 360 turn. When something might not have been there I would have forced it, I try not to make those mistakes anymore. I try to make the easy plays, when a spectacular play is there I'll try to make it but don't try to make a spectacular play when it's not there. Off the court, I have grown up a whole lot, to a man.
What do you do when you're off the court?
If I am not in study hall or working on papers, I just like hanging out in the room, relaxing and catching up on my sleep, you lose a lot of sleep when you are in season and have a lot of work and papers to do. I just hang out, watch some college basketball, watch some YouTube and things like that.
What is your greatest accomplishment off the court?
My greatest accomplish off the court probably came my sophomore year. I missed the Dean's List by, I think, half a point, I was disappointed that I missed it but that was a pretty special accomplishment to get that close. Hopefully, this year I'm going to get on that Dean's List. Academics are huge in my family, my mom and dad always instilled that in us. And when I told her that she kind of got mad that I didn't get on the list, but I felt like I was close enough that the next semester I was going to get on it.
Who was your most influential role model?
I would say, my parents, they are huge in my life. They encourage me when things are going wrong and when things are going well they keep me level-headed. They always keep me grounded; they are pretty special people in my life.
What was the best advice you ever received from a coach?
Probably from Coach Battle, he told to stop thinking and just react; play the game on feeling and off of your reactions and things will turn out alright for you.
Everyone saw your team getting a lot closer after the death of Coach Prosser. What kind of bond has your team formed in year and a half since his death?
It's been something special. Coach Prosser was the man who brought all of us in here and to see him pass away was a huge loss. But what this program did athletically and as a school, we just came together with a tight knit bond, it was something special. We still have so much more work to do but I think if Coach Prosser were here today, he would be proud of us. The way we just connected and became one was very special.
What is your gameday routine?
If are playing at home and it's a 7pm game, we have shoot-around first, usually around 3pm, team dinner after that around 3:30pm, then I go back to room and hang out. We go back to the gym, we have a team shoot-around at 5:45pm so I try to get to the gym around 4:45pm. We get taped and I try to get in a little extra shooting before the team shoot-around. From 5:45pm-7pm we are stretching, doing coaches meetings and warm-ups and then 7pm is game time.
What are your expectations for your team this season?
I think the sky is the limit for this team with the talent that we have, the camaraderie and the coaching staff. Now we just have to go out and get it and in doing that I think that we can go and make some noise in Atlanta and then after that we can hit the NCAA Tournament up and really make a deep, deep run. I don't want to make any predictions or anything but I think this team has the talent to make deep runs in both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.
What is your favorite part of the playing in the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament?
Probably the atmosphere, you have all the schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference coming in and pretty much all eyes are on your team. Sometimes, Carolina and Duke might be playing a certain time and Virginia Tech and Florida State might be playing and you might miss that game but it's not the case at the ACC Tournament. Everybody is there and it's like a huge family just watching the games and all eyes are on the teams playing at that specific time.