BYU Legends Mike Smith, Devin Durant Had Unexpected ‘Spiritual Moment’ Together

Jul 28, 2020, 3:58 PM
Mike Smith - Devin Durrant...
Photo courtesy of Mike Smith. Twitter: @themikesmithway

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – BYU basketball legends Mike Smith and Devin Durrant are two of the Cougars best players ever. Both were teammates and held a close bond while playing at BYU in the early 1980s.

That bond and friendship were rekindled recently when the two unexpectedly ran into one another at a Larry H. Miller Ford dealership recently in the Salt Lake valley.

Smith who lives in California is visiting Utah this month wrote on social media, “Look who I bumped into – the great Devin Durrant. He was senior to my freshman. Great scorer. Silky smooth along the baseline could run like the wind, pure on 15-foot bankers, and our great leader and my mentor and idol. Love that guy!”

The leadership and mentoring from Durrant expanded in more ways than just basketball. In fact, if it wasn’t for Durrant, Smith likely doesn’t end up at BYU. Seeing his idol and mentor again was something Smith considered a “spiritual experience.”

How Mike Smith ended up at BYU

A three-sport Parade All-American in basketball, football, and volleyball out of Los Altos High School in California, Smith had the biggest programs nationally recruiting him. On his official visit to Stanford, the Cardinal rolled out the red carpet and took Smith to a football game where John Elway and Stanford upset No. 2 Washington.

On his official visit to BYU, Smith’s host was Durrant. Durrant was a bonafide star at BYU already at that time. But you wouldn’t know it based on the activities he took Smith to do on his visit. Smith told KSL Sports that Durrant didn’t have much of a plan for the big recruiting weekend other than he knew some friends that had a cabin in Sundance and they were playing board games like checkers and Sorry.

Smith thought that was a different speed than what he was seeing at other universities. But he loved the simplicity and how it allowed him to form a genuine relationship with Durrant.

BYU ended up landing Smith and he went on to have a prolific career with the Cougars scoring 2,319 points and becoming the first BYU player to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft that served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Durrant’s impact on Smith on life decisions away from basketball

Serving a mission was always in the plans for Smith but the stats didn’t lie, players that went on to have NBA careers from BYU didn’t serve missions. But any sort of doubt about serving a mission went away after a memorable moment in his one and only season with Durrant as a teammate.

The two were teammates during the 1983-84 campaign, Ladell Andersen’s first year as BYU’s head coach. In one of the first games of Smith’s BYU career, he hit a game-winning shot to lift the Cougars over Oregon from the Pac-10 Conference.

In the postgame locker room, Smith was overcome with joy and the toast of the night from all of the local media outlets. After completing all the interviews, Durrant approached Smith to congratulate him on the shot but also to challenge him to write down the emotions he’s feeling in that moment and to later compare it to how he will feel when he has the chance to convert someone to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on his mission the following year.

All of those experiences and emotions came rushing through again for Smith when he saw Durrant at the car dealership. Smith said to KSL Sports he was with his 12-year-old and he was thrilled to be able to tell his son how much of an impact Durrant had on his life and the mentor that he was to him both on and off the court.

Both Smith and Durrant combined to score 4,604 in their BYU careers. Good for third and fourth all-time in BYU basketball history. Both are two of the greatest in the program’s history and each has gone on to have success professionally as well.

Durrant has served many different roles for The Church and Smith has had a storied broadcasting career that includes the development of a new app called Ghostcast which allows people to broadcast any game to anyone from anywhere in the world.

But professional success can never outweigh great relationships that are formed and Smith was grateful to have that spiritual moment with his idol and friend.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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