Jaleen Smith is a 22 year old 193cm guard from Freeport, Texas that will be starting his rookie season in Germany with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA). He had a stellar four year career with New Hampshire (NCAA) from 2013-2017 where he played a total of 120 NCAA games. He improved his scoring, rebounding and assists average each season and as a senior he played 32 games averaging 15.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.1%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Thanks Jaleen for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how has your summer been?
Freeport, Texas and my summer has been good I’ve been working on different parts of my game all summer and I’ve been doing an internship with the Boys and Girls Club in Freeport.
Congrats on signing with German Pro A team MLP Academics Heidelberg. How did you experience your first signing summer? Did you have more offers than what you expected? You played in the NCAA, but in a lower conference.
It was an exciting experience my agent called me telling about the team and how they offered me right on the spot so I took it right away. I had another offer from a team in Germany Pro A as well but I felt comfortable with this offer more.
You stated that you can´t wait to test the German food. Have you heard of Wiener Schnitzel and Pommes? Translated Veal with French Fries. Would that wet your appetite?
I haven’t heard of that but it sounds good. I would love to try it though
You did something that doesn´t always happen as you improved your scoring, rebounding and assist average each season at New Hampshire (NCAA). When did you know 100% that you could actually become a professional basketball player?
After my Junior Year, my coach came up to me in a meeting and was telling me that I can play professional so that’s when I knew I could play pro.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Do you have any friends playing in Germany?
I know its one of the top basketball leagues in the world and I know this guy that played at a rival school in college and well play his team the first game of the year.
You will be playing your rookie season in Heidelberg which is a university town and a huge tourist attraction. What are you looking forward most to in your rookie season?
To see the difference between Europe and the United States and learn about the German culture.
What was the deciding factor that made you want to sign with the MLP Academics Heidelberg? Did you talk to head coach Branislav Ignjatovic?
The opportunity to showcase my skills with basically a whole new team playing this coming season. I have talked to the coach and he is a really nice guy and loves the city of Heidelberg.
Let´s talk a bit about your game. You’re a scoring guard that can fill up the stat sheet. What do you feel will help the MLP Academics most from your game?
My scoring ability from all levels of the floor and my leadership can help as well.
To what NBA player would you compare your game too? Your favorite athlete is Paul George, but why isn´t your favorite player a guard like you?
I Just like his game he is one of the best 2 way players in the league.
You’re a guard that improved your stats each season. What is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed in your game right away?
I’m a gym rat so I know there is always some to improve on with my game but now I’m trying to master it.
You did play in a weaker conference, but held your own in loses against Uconn and Boston College in your second and third years. Explain why the AEC is a conference stronger than what people may see from the names of the schools?
It’s a really competitive league I enjoyed every single minute of it.
You scored 14 points in your last game at New Hampshire losing 74-41 against Vermont How disappointed were you to go out like that?
I was really disappointed in how we lost because I know we are a better team than what the score indicated.
You reached the AEC semi-finals your last three years. What do you feel was missing from winning a title?
I feel like we were just missing that toughness about us. We were talented but I feel like we weren’t mental tough in those semifinal games.
How did head coach Bill Herrion groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
He was really like a mentor to me. My freshman year really opened my eyes on how to grind for playing time. He has really helped me a lot through the process.
What kind of relationship did you and Texas native Daniel Dion have as teammates and how did you grow as players?
We were close friends and we grew physically as players and smarter too from our freshman year.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Daniel Dion?
How does a normal summer work out day look like for you on and off the court and what are the main things you will be working on in your game?
I work from 9-5 and after I workout for 2 hours on different things for my shooting because that’s the most improvement I need to make in my game.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaq, and Lebron James.
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and has three to Michael Jordan´s six. There are so many experts that keep proclaiming that Lebron is the best of all-time. Where do you rate him in the neverending debate about who the best of all-time is?
Number 2 all time
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
Yea I feel like he should hold his own on defense.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I liked the draft I wish I would’ve got drafted but overall it was good haha. I didn’t even watch the draft to even know.
What will the Houston Rockets be capable of doing this season with the guard duo of Chris Paul and James Harden?
I think they can co-exist but not right away. They both just too ball dominate right now.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Transformers: The Last Knight.
Thanks Jaleen for the chat.