One of John Thompson's original recruits, 6-1 guard Jonathan Smith was a mainstay in the formative years of the Thompson era.
Smith had played for Thompson at St. Anthony's HS, and followed him to Georgetown in 1972. Envisioned by some as a backup his freshman year, Smith was anything but. A capable scorer from outside and a quick mover inside, Smith was a force throughout the Hoyas' 12-14 season in 1972-73, twice scoring a career high 25 in games with Penn State and George Washington. Smith finished second to Merlin Wilson in scoring--owing to contemporary records that listed Smith ahead of Wilson by average (13.0 vs. 12.7), he is often listed as the scoring leader that season.
For his sophomore year, there was no question that Smith was the team leader in scoring. In a season filed with inconsistency from a still-young team, Smith was a consistent force, with numerous 20+ point games. Down the stretch, Smith averaged 25 points a game and was named to the ECAC Player of the Week list three consecutive times. His 32 points against Connecticut was a season high, finishing the season with 466 points, the third most in a season to that point in school history.
Smith earned a second scoring title in 1974-75 across a well balanced scoring effort. He scored 20 or more points in four of the Hoyas' first eight games, but broke his finger in a December game which ultimately cost him some accuracy as the season progressed. Smith's scoring percentage fell from 45% to just under 37%, but still contributed heavily down the stretch, including scoring eight of the first 12 points in the ECAC final against West Virginia and ten points overall. A week later, Smith would fall victim to one of the great heartbreaks in Georgetown post-season history, in its 1975
NCAA game versus Central Michigan.
With the score tied at 75-all with six seconds left, a held ball forced a jump ball between the two teams. The tip was won by Georgetown's Ed Hopkins, then retrieved by Derrick Jackson, who flipped the ball to Smith, who took a pair of dribbles and launched a long jumper at the buzzer that missed. On the play, CMU guard Leonard Drake undercut Smith, but an official off the ball instead called Smith for an offensive foul, allowing CMU to win the game at the foul line with time expired. Game films supported Thompson's strenuous protest, but the outcome was long since decided.
Smith's numbers declined considerably in his senior year. While playing in 23 games, he averaged only seven shots a game as the offensive load had turned to Derrick Jackson and Al Dutch. and entered March averaging only 5.6 points per game. Still, Smith saved some of his best for three key games in the post-season, scoring 20 in the ECAC semifinal versus Villanova, 16 in the ECAC championship win over George Washington, and 20 against Arizona in the first round of the NCAA's.
Jonathan Smith began his career on a Georgetown team coming off a 3-23 season. He ended it with consecutive ECAC championships and two NCAA bids. Smith later went on to serve in the State Department, and spoke of Coach Thompson's impact upon his life.
"My relationship with Coach Thompson," Smith said, taught me how to deal with life. He impressed upon me that I could not put everything in one basket; he made me work around existing conditions so they would benefit me. [He] made me come to grips with life as a man."
From his four years at the Hilltop, Jonathan Smith helped established a legacy for the great Thompson era teams to come.