Matt Smith is a 23 year old 201cm forward from Whitewright, Texas that will commence his professional basketball career this season in Germany with the Finke Baskets Paderborn. He started his basketball career in 2009 with Wisc.-Green Bay (NCAA). He then transferred to Toledo(NCAA) where he played from 2011-2014 plying a total of 94NCAA games there. As a senior he played 34 games: 3.8ppg, 1.8rpg. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Matt thanks for talking to German Hoops. It has been almost 5 months since your last college game against Southern Mississippi. Despite averaging only 11 minutes your senior year and 3,8ppg, how confident were you that a professional career as basketball player could happen?
I was very confident, because I know what kind of player I am and that if I am put into the right situation then I will flourish.
How was your first experience testing the players market this summer. At the end you can s ay better late than never, because you were signed very late by the German pro A team Finke Baskets Paderborn. What did you learn from the whole experience?
I learned that this is a business and in order to be wanted, you have to produce the year before.
What do you know about the country Germany and the basketball scene there? Tyrus Mcghee who you know recently also got signed in Germany by the Eisbaeren Bremerhaven.
I really do not know much about Germany. I am anxious to get there and see everything! Yes, Tyrus and I grew up together and I was super excited when I found out that he was going to be playing in Germany as well.
Your town Whitewright and Germany are linked. Back in World War 2, US Lieutenant Joe Tom Meador who comes from Whitewright looted some major German pieces of art from a cave and had it sent back to the States. He died in 1980 and in 1992 the art was returned to Germany. Did you know this? This could be an interesting story to German folks. Do you remember being taught German history in school?
Actually, I had no idea that happened. I will definitely have to look this up more so I can share this with others.
After a stellar career at Whitewright high school, you went to UW-Greenbay where as a freshman you started 34 of 35 games averaging 3,2ppg and 2,1rpg. Why did you transfer after your freshman year? Did you see yourself having a different kind of role that head coach Tod Kowalczyk had for you?
Coach Kowalczyk took the head coaching job for the University of Toledo at the end of my freshman year. The coaching staff asked if I wanted to come with them to help rebuild and I was honored, so I decided to transfer.
How difficult was it sitting out the 2010-2011 season due to transfer rules at Toledo? What was the most valuable things you learned practicing and watching games form the sidelines?
My redshirt year was one of the most difficult years of my life. It was extremely frustrating that I had to watch my team struggle and could not contribute. The most valuable thing I learned sitting out was to see a coach’s perspective during that year. I started really understanding what the coaching staff had to go through to prepare for practice and games, so it made me more appreciative.
After playing many minutes your second and third seasons and being one of the top three point shooters in the MAC conference, you had a lesser role last season. How difficult was it for you to take a step back and have to watch more?
It was difficult at first, because I wanted to be out there so badly. I then heard a quote that changed my whole way of thinking. The quote was, “I don’t know how many minutes, points, or rebounds a game I will get, but I know I will give 100% every time I step out on the court.” After hearing this, it made the year much easier.
Toledo had very talented guys your senior year. Having gone through this experience as a senior, how do you think that you have grown as a player that will be beneficial for you right away as a rookie professional?
I know how hard it was for us to be good. I am a rookie, but I am a seasoned one. I feel as if I can teach the younger guys things.
Your coach at UW-Greenbay Tod Kowalczyk followed you to Toldeo in 2010. What was the most important thing that you learned from him on and off the court that will have you ready to take on the battles on the court as a professional?
He always told me that no matter what I do I am always being evaluated by someone. That helped me want to set the best examples on and off the court.
You are a 201cm forward that can do it all especially spread the floor. What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
My help defense. I love rotating over and taking a charge to help out my team!
You played three seasons with point guard Julius Brown. Where do you see his journey going as a professional in the future?
He is going to be a great player overseas! He makes difficult moves look so easy and smooth. He will definitely make some money playing this game.
How does a normal summer work out day look like for you on and off the court?
I usually wake up at about 7 am, eat a snack and run anywhere from a mile to 3.5 miles. Afterwards, I will get cleaned up and have breakfast with the family and take on whatever activities they have planned for the day. In the evening, if I can get into a gym to get a workout in I will, otherwise I will go for another 1-2 mile run.
Who was the best player that you had to play against that is in the NBA now?
Blake Griffin. I played against him in AAU my freshman year in high school.
What was the last DVD movie that you saw?
The Lion king.
Thanks Matt for the chat.