Belus Smawley

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Belus Smawley
Belus Smawley.jpg
Smayley pictured in Rhododendron 1943, Appalachian State yearbook
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1918-03-18)March 18, 1918
Ellenboro, North Carolina
Died April 24, 2003(2003-04-24) (aged 85)
Mooresville, North Carolina
Playing career
? Appalachian State
Position(s) Guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1942–1943 Appalachian State
1951–1956 Pembroke State College
Head coaching record
Overall 57-58
Accomplishments and honors
1 North State Conference (1943)
North State Conference Coach of the Year (1943)

Belus Van Smawley (March 20, 1918 – April 24, 2003) was an American basketball player and coach.

A 6'1" guard/forward from Rutherford County, North Carolina, Smawley was one of the first basketball players to regularly use the jump shot.[1] Smawley developed his shot in an abandoned train depot near his home that was fashioned into a basketball court. Basketball historian John Christgau has concluded that Smawley and Kenny Sailors of rural Wyoming were using jump shots as early as 1934.[2]

Smawley was an All-American basketball player at Appalachian State University before becoming one of the early stars of the Basketball Association of America (which became the National Basketball Association in 1949.) From 1946 to 1952, Smawley competed for the St. Louis Bombers, Syracuse Nationals, and Baltimore Bullets, averaging 12.7 points per game. During the 1948–49 BAA season, Smawley ranked sixth in the league in total points and fourth in field goals made.[3]

After his playing career ended, Smawley served as a school principal and basketball coach. Between 1951 and 1956, Smawley served as the Athletic Director and head men's basketball coach at Pembroke State College, known today as The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, in Pembroke, North Carolina.[4] In December 1951, he took a three-month leave of absence from Pembroke State College to finish his playing career with the Baltimore Bullets. In his absence, Vernon Felton, a member of the Pembroke State faculty and former Appalachian State athlete, led the team to 12 wins and five loses; finishing the season at 12-10.[5] Smawley was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.[2]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Appalachian State Mountaineers (North State Conference) (1942–1943)
1942–43 Appalachian State 16–5 9–0 1st
Appalachian State: 16–5 9–0
Pembroke State College Braves (Independent) (1951–1956)
1951–52 Pembroke State College 0–5
1952–53 Pembroke State College 14–9
1953–54 Pembroke State College 6–16
1954–55 Pembroke State College 10–12
1955–56 Pembroke State College 11–11
Pembroke State College: 41–53
Total: 57–58

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion


  1. ^ Christgau, John (1999). "Belus and the Sunshine Basketball Boys". Origins of the Jump Shot: Eight Men Who Shook the World of Basketball. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 156–186. ISBN 0-8032-6394-5. 
  2. ^ a b Joe DePriest. "He's the man who started the jump shot." The Charlotte Observer. 4 May 2003.
  3. ^ Belus Smawley. basketball-reference.
  4. ^ UNC Pembroke Athletic Record Book Archived June 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ UNC Pembroke 1952 Indianhead Yearbook