E.J. Lee Smith hired as new women’s basketball coach at Sul Ross State

One of the greatest women’s college basketball players is headed to Sul Ross State to take over the reigns as the new women’s head basketball coach.

Eun Jung Lee Smith, a native of Gimje, South Korea, spent 30 years coaching at her alma mater, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, before stepping down as the associate head coach in 2019.

She then went on coach at the high school level at River Oaks School in Monroe, La., for three years.

Smith has been longing to return to the collegiate level.

“I got really excited because I’ve always dreamed of going back to college,” she said. “I feel like I can do really well over there. A lot of good players are returning. I think I can help them to get even better.”

Smith was rated the top women’s college basketball player as she starred at ULM (formerly known as Northeast Louisiana University) as a point guard from 1982-1986.

ULM went 102-15 overall when Smith started at point from 1982-1984.

She helped lead the program to a Final Four appearance during the 1984-1985 season as it finished 30-2 overall and undefeated in the Southland Conference.

Smith was named a two-time All-American in 1985 and 1986. In addition, she earned Southland Conference Player of the Year honors four times while also being named Southland Conference Player of the Decade.

To this day, she holds eight school records, which includes the most free throws made, most assists, most steals and most games started, to name a few.

“We are so honored to have someone with coach Smith’s experience join our staff. Her basketball intelligence is incredible and she has a genuine love for the game of basketball,” said Sul Ross State Athletic Director Amanda Workman. “She places a high emphasis on academics as well with a very impressive track record of high graduation rates.

“She cares deeply for her student-athletes during and long after their playing career. I am excited to see where she leads this program.”

Smith’s love for the game of basketball began at the age of 10.

She was part of a championship team at Soongeui Girls’ High School in Seoul, South Korea. After high school, Smith was selected as the top pick by Cheil Bank of the semiprofessional basketball league of South Korea.

After the stint at the semipro level, Smith earned a full-ride scholarship to ULM, and the rest was history.

Smith played professionally overseas for Club Visby AIK in Visby, Sweden, and Felisatta in Ferrar, Italy, from 1986-1989.

She broke into the coaching world in 1989 as a part-time volunteer assistant at ULM. Smith was later promoted to associate head women’s basketball coach, a title she held for 13 years.

Smith is one of seven women to be inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1991, she was inducted into the ULM Hall of Fame.

Sul Ross State is a program on the rise after finishing 14-12 overall last season, the first winning record since 2003.

The Lobos have made back-to-back American Southwest Conference tournament appearances.

“I am thrilled to become the next head women’s basketball coach at Sul Ross State University,” Smith said. “Their belief in me means the world, and I couldn’t pass up this great opportunity.
“I will do my best to help the Lobos compete and win at a high level. I am very grateful to Athletic Director Amanda Workman and the committee for giving me this chance.”


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