Another change came to Washington hoops following last season’s failure to make the NCAA tournament field when coach Lorenzo Romar added Lamont Smith to the coaching staff and moved former assistant Paul Fortier to a new job of director of player personnel/player development.
Smith spent the last four seasons as an assistant at Arizona State under Herb Sendek, but worked from 1999-2001 as a graduate assistant under Romar when he was head coach at St. Louis University.
Last week, Romar hired Western Washington University head coach Brad Jackson to replace Raphael Chillious, who left for Villanova. Chillious was a well-regarded recruiter, and Smith is seen the same way. The move was abrupt because the Huskies have yet to complete a background check on Smith, and the team leaves soon for a trip to Europe and Senegal.
“We are excited to welcome Lamont Smith on our staff,” Romar said via a university statement following the Huskies’ ninth of 10 practices ahead of their international trip. “Lamont is very energetic and a dynamic recruiter.
“I know Lamont really well. I was able to give him his first job and I coached against him when he was a player at the University of San Diego. He has a great basketball mind and will have a big impact on our program.”
Fortier spent the past seven years as an assistant on Romar’s bench. He will continue to help mentor players and be responsible for “maintaining a high standard of recruiting practices,” the statement said.
“Paul will excel in his role,” Romar said. “He will be vital in ensuring that Washington remains one of the top programs in the nation.”
Smith is leaving an ASU program in disarray, replete with player defections. Romar, who has won two regular season conference titles and two Pac-10 Tournament titles over the last four years, is the senior Pac-12 coach in terms of tenure.
“I have always really watched his career and the success he has had,” Smith said of Romar. “Any time you can coach with a man that has his type of character and work ethic, you just kind of gravitate towards that.”
The Sun Devils had a pair of 20-win seasons with Smith on the bench and advanced to the NCAA second round in 2009. Smith also played a vital role in developing 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year James Harden, now a star with Oklahoma City Thunder.
Prior to ASU, Smith was at Santa Clara from 2007-08 as Kerry Keating’s top assistant. He helped recruit one of the top classes in the West Coast Conference.
From 2001-2007 Smith was an assistant on the staff of Randy Bennett at Saint Mary’s. Bennett and Smith knew each other from their time on Romar’s Saint Louis staff.
Smith, a native of Colony, TX., earned a bachelor of arts degree in communications in 1998 from the University of San Diego, where he played from 1994-99. He was named the Toreros’ Defensive Player of the Year in 1997 and 1999 and served as the team captain from 1997-99.