Simeon Career Academy coach Robert Smith said Monday he has decided to bypass college coaching opportunities to make a run at a fifth consecutive Illinois state title with the Wolverines next season.
Smith has accumulated a 260-40 record, won six state titles and had one runner-up finish in nine seasons with Simeon. He said after the high school season he would consider leaving Simeon for a college assistant position.
Simeon went 30-3 and won the IHSA Class 4A state championship last season. The Wolverines finished No. 5 in the final ESPN 25 Power Rankings.
“First of all, there weren’t really any good jobs that I thought were really worth leaving what I already had,” the 41-year-old Smith said on Monday. “There were a couple of jobs I considered, but it wasn’t worth it. If the right opportunity had come, I definitely would have taken it. I was looking for a situation where I could be an assistant to a coach who had some history and could help groom to become a head coach. If I was an assistant for a new coach, I didn’t know if that would have helped me.”
Smith said he also chose to stay at Simeon to prove his doubters wrong. He said there are people who don’t believe he can without a state championship without Derrick Rose or Jabari Parker on the floor. Smith won his first two state titles with Rose and his last four with Parker.
“Everybody said we were supposed to win because we had Derrick, supposed to win because we had Jabari,” Smith said. “We definitely can win next year. We don’t have the names, but the guys we have our really good. I want to be able to coach those guys and see how far we can get. I think we’ll have a great opportunity to win state again.”
Smith also didn’t rule out taking a college position down the line.
“Every year from here on out, I will definitely be looking,” Smith said. “I’m still pretty young for the college game.”