UW's Doug Smart (1937-2019): He Went Head to Head with Wilt

Dan Raley

Doug Smart had a chance to play alongside Wilt Chamberlain, college basketball's first truly dominant 7-footer, but he passed in favor of pulling on a Washington Huskies uniform. 

Smart, who died on Nov. 17 and is center in the accompanying photo with Bruno Boin and Earl Irvine, still wound up going one-on-one with Wilt in a pair of memorable games held in what was then Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

Chamberlain was a 1950s basketball novelty for the Kansas Jayhawks and people everywhere clamored to see him play.

Smart stood five inches smaller but he was a 26-point scorer from Seattle's Garfield High School who had a reputation that spread all the way to the heartlands. He learned this through the mail.

"I got a postcard from Kansas, from coach Phog Allen, that said with a little note, 'We've got Wilt, want to be his power forward?' " Smart recalled in 2009.

In his fourth and fifth varsity games for the Huskies in 1956, Smart faced "Wilt the Stilt" in a weekend series that drew sold-out crowds. Chamberlain was everything as advertised, leading the Jayhawks to a pair of 14-point victories.

He scored 30 points and grabbed 16 rebounds on Friday night, 37 and 28 on Saturday night.

Smart had double-double outings each time out against Wilt, coming up with 33 points and 17 rebounds in the second game.

The two big men bantered back and forth throughout the weekend. Chamberlain made it scary and fun.

"He was well spoken and a gentleman, but he knew he owned the paint," Smart said. "He did funny things like if you scored on a little jump hook, you would be going down the court and he'd run past you and say, 'Don't try that again.' The next time down, of course, you'd just be screaming for the ball.

"It was the only time I had someone catch my shot with two hands and smile at me."

Smart still ranks as the UW's second all-time rebounder with 1,051 (13.5 per game), trailing only Jon Brockman who had 1,283 (9.8) in 53 more games, and as the 14th-best scorer with 1,478 points (18.9), one more than Brandon Roy. 

Drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1959, Smart passed up the NBA to become a dentist. No doubt Wilt helped him finalize his career choice. 

Comments (2)
No. 1-2
Mark Pattison
Mark Pattison

Good dude. Was my dentist for years..


Nice article about my dad. Thanks. I just want to clarify a few facts. John Douglas Smart was Born 12/4/36 and Passed 11/18/19. Also my dad would want it to be clarified that it took Jon Brockman 4 years to break the UW Basketball rebounding record that my dad set in only 3! Love ya dad!

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