Wellington Smith has been out of the game since 2011, but he hasn’t gotten away from basketball. The WVU forward has been working in a company called GameChanger Media Inc. and is their Director of Basketball Marketing.
GameChanger is a company that allows its clients to keep stats and information during a sporting event on their iPhone or iPad. The stats are then culminated and distributed and provides a live stream for those family members, fans and coaches who can’t make it to the game. The app then allows clients to manage their team, send alerts and keep track of stats.
“I’ve been doing it for about two years now and it’s great,” Smith told WVUPros in a recent interview. “I get to be a part of different events that partner with Nike, the Basketball Hall of Fame and things like that.”
The target audience for the company, Smith said, is the world of high school athletics.
“We want to make sure parents and fans and college coaches are able to keep up with the kids they want to follow during the course of their season,” he said.
Smith joined GameChanger after a brief stint in insurance following his departure from playing basketball overseas in Japan. The WVU graduate played just six games in Japan, averaging 7.3 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. A nagging injury, though, cut his playing days short. During his junior season, Smith played much of the year with a stress fracture in his foot. That led to fracturing his foot twice while playing overseas, a journey that lasted about six months.
The experience, though, was something he wouldn’t have traded for anything else.
“Japan was a wonderful experience. I kick myself literally every day thinking I should have stayed a little bit longer,” he said. “It was a very rushed decision. It was a great experience to have that I wouldn’t take away for the world.”
Once he returned home, though, he had to make a decision on what do do with his future. Thinking back to his time at West Virginia, Smith decided that wasn’t ready to get away from basketball just yet and started the Wellington Smith Basketball Academy.
“I was fortunate to create my own basketball academy to give back to what the game gave me,” Smith said, “and I really wanted to get into a little more, so I found GameChanger on a website and I kind of hounded them to give them me an interview and they did.”
Smith said his favorite part of the job is visiting the several different high school tournaments where big-name players are playing. In the past two years, Smith has been able to watch players like Jabari Parker and Ben Simmons. In addition to that, the best part, Smith said, is always learning something new each day on the job.
While at WVU, Smith played in 140 games with 75 starts, averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, led WVU to three NCAA appearances and was a part of some of the best teams to come through the WVU Coliseum, including the 2010 team that won the Big East Championship and then made it to the Final Four.
Without using the skills that he learned at WVU, however, Smith might not have gotten the chance to continue to do what he loves.
“It helped me a lot,” Smith said of his time in college. “I’ve grown so much since I was a freshman at west Virginia. One of the best things I learned was to be humble.
“People don’t understand how much goes into being a student-athlete and how much being a student-athlete helps you once you leave the campus,” he continued. “The amount of responsibility, time management and achievements, like the Big East academic award, those things make you stand out in anything you do. It’s really nice to those years to benefit me in all aspects of my life.”
But Smith is the type of guy who picks up skills everywhere he goes. WVU taught him to be humble, Japan taught him to try new things, and he even learned something from his time in the insurance industry.
“In insurance I learned a lot about selling and the business of building your own brand,” he said. “I began to understand that you’re the person that people buy into, not the product.
“I earned to be a people person, too,” he added. “A lot of people in the limelight of college athletics don’t understand to be more social and get out of your comfort zone.”
As his career as a professional continues, Smith isn’t sure where his path will lead him. The biggest thing, he said, was to always find a way to provide for his wife, which he met at WVU, and his family. After that, Smith hopes to remain around basketball and one day be his own boss. A natural leader on the basketball court, Smith said he wants to be able to provide answers to others in the business world.
“I think being a leader on the court and off the court and helping young freshman and sophomores that don’t understand college basketball has a lot to do with that,” he said. “I feel like I was a leader and it’s helped me in my career.”