ELKHART – It’s been quite a week for Grace College men’s basketball. Monday saw the retirement announcement of Hall of Fame head coach Jim Kessler, the naming of Scott Moore to replace him, and now Wednesday’s proclamation that Elkhart Memorial superstar Hank Smith is headed to Winona Lake to join the Lancer basketball program.
Smith will come in as part of the first class for Moore, who will take over the Grace men’s basketball program next season. Smith brings quite an offensive arsenal with him as one of northern Indiana’s top scorers at 15.9 points per game through Tuesday for an Elkhart Memorial program that’s been among the top Class 4-A teams in the state.
Memorial just claimed a share of the Northern Lakes Conference championship Tuesday night at Warsaw, beating the Tigers to split the NLC with Warsaw. The Chargers will head into next week’s sectional as the defending champions, in part to Smith’s play last season and his continued work this season.
Smith has helped Memorial to a 16-5 record this season, and his 35 points on nine made threes helped the Chargers to an upset over Penn, and his eight threes and 29 total points lifted Memorial to a win at Hobart. Smith is connecting on 36 percent of his three-point shots this season, and is adding over two rebounds and assists per game. For his career, Smith has been a consistent scorer, averaging 13.4 points per game in his three full varsity seasons for the Chargers.
Grace College, a member of the NAIA and NCCAA, are 15-15 overall and are awaiting its assignments for the postseason, whether it be a regional play-in game, or just its automatic berth into the NCCAA Championships it will host in mid-March. Moore will take over for Kessler following this season, to which Kessler has amassed 785 wins over 42 seasons on the Grace bench.