Former Vulcan Andy Smith to Coach Ocean County College

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Andy Smith, a former University of Hawai`i at Hilo basketball standout, is taking his ability to cultivate and develop talent to a different level.

Announced Thursday, Smith will become the head coach of Ocean County College, a junior college program in Toms River, NJ. Smith is a New Jersey native, playing prep hoops at Brick Township Memorial High School and starting his collegiate career at OCC before transferring to UH Hilo.

“I got a text from a friend of mine who said the Ocean County coach (Taurean Fisher) has resigned,” said Smith in an interview on ESPN Radio in Hilo and Kona. “I put my application in and told them all about Hawai`i Island Hoops, told them about all of the success we’ve had as far as our college prep programs, our athletics, our financial aid, our athletic recruitment seminars we’ve done since 2004 and the amount of success we’ve had ascending Hawai`i high school athletes off to college.”

Smith said through his discussions with people at Ocean County, he found that there was a mutual understanding of the “academic process and financial aid.” He also said that they were impressed with the coaching connections he made at top high schools across the country through his camp.


“The reason why I even applied for this job is that I just thought it was a great opportunity, number one, because of background with college prep basketball in general and helping kids in the next level, and I think a lot of kids on the Jersey shore are very similar to these kids here in Hawai`i, where they often get overlooked,” added the new head coach. “There’s a lot of talent there, but they often get overlooked and under-noticed.”

Since finishing his collegiate career with the Vulcans, Smith has worked in politics and sports. He formed Hawai`i Island Hoops, a non-profit organization, in 2004 to give high school student athletes the tools to get to the next level in their athletic and academic careers. Smith organizes camps and college-prep programs that attract coaches and players from across the country to work with Big Island athletes.

In politics, he recently worked as a representative on Governor Linda Lingle’s United States Senate campaign. He also served under Lingle during her service as Governor as Lingle’s Executive Administrator on Hawai`i Island.


Smith inherits a program that went 7-20 last season and 5-15 in Region XIX competition. The school competes as a Division III member of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

What is the future of Hawai`i Island Hoops? Says its founder, “we want to come back. We want to keep this going. You don’t throw away a great thing after the years of success that we’ve had. We’re going to continue to do this.”

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