A native of Chicago, Illinois, Smith played an undersized center at 6'7". Between 1978–79 and 1980–81, Smith scored 1,717 points in 114 games for a career average of 15.1 points per game. At the time of his graduation, he was second on the all-time Cornhuskers scoring list. Smith is still found in the top 10 on many other school records. During his junior and senior years he was named a First Team All-Big 8 Conference member, and at the conclusion of his final season was named the Big 8 Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year. In 1980–81, Smith averaged 18.3 points per game to lead the conference en route to becoming Nebraska's first-ever player of the year recipient.