UNC Asheville Site
Nov. 18, 2015 – Cleveland Heights senior basketball standout Malik Smith signed his official letter of intent to attend UNC Asheville in a ceremony on Tuesday afternoon. Smith will receive a full scholarship to play basketball for the Bulldogs, who compete on the NCAA Division I level.
Malik chose UNC Asheville in part because the school will help him pursue his dream of a career as a pilot. He has logged many hours of flight experience since taking an interest in aviation as a 10-year-old and plans to fly back and forth between Cleveland and Asheville.
“We are very proud of Malik, he is a very loving and kind person,” said Malik’s mother, Michelle A. Smith. “We love the program at UNC Asheville, and Malik will have a wonderful opportunity to continue his education and pursue his passion of aviation.”
Malik was joined on stage on Tuesday by his parents Michelle and Randy Smith and his younger brother, Tyreke. Randy is a 1986 Cleveland Heights High grad and Tyreke is a sophomore at Heights as well. Both Randy and Michelle played collegiate basketball at Point Park University in Pittsburgh. The Smiths lived in California before moving to Cleveland when Malik was a sophomore.
“It is great to see Malik play here [at Cleveland Heights], where I played,” said Randy Smith. “His mother and I coached him for his first six years, and we are very happy to have him play at UNC Asheville.”
Malik was very gracious in his remarks during the ceremony, thanking his family for helping accomplish his goal of playing basketball at the next level.
“I have the most amazing parents,” said Malik. “No matter what happens in life I couldn’t be blessed with a better set of parents. I thank them and God for everything. I want to thank my little brother also. He’s my best friend, and I will really miss him. Playing at UNC Asheville is the next step for me, but first it’s about getting back to work so I can bring Heights a state title.”
Malik and the Tigers open the 2015-16 season on Friday, Nov. 27, at the Ohio Valley Hoops event in Wilmington, Ohio. The Tigers will be under the direction of new head coach Jeremy Holmes, a 1996 Heights grad. Holmes led Cleveland Central Catholic to the Division II state final last season.
“I’m excited on this day for Malik,” said Coach Holmes. “I get to coach a great kid, a great basketball player and obviously a Division I athlete who I know will be successful.”
As a junior at Heights last season, Malik averaged 15.6 points and 7.5rebounds per game. The Tigers finished 8-17 last year, but Malik had to sit out until mid-January after transferring from Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
UNC Asheville, located in the western mountains of North Carolina, competes in the Big South Conference. The Bulldogs went 15-16 overall last season.