Michael Smith is a 22 year old 193cm guard from California that is starting his professional career in Germany with the Crailsheim Merlins. He played at Cal.Baptist (NCAA2) from 2013-2017 and set the NCAA 2 on fire in his last two seasons as a junior he averaged 21.4ppg, 6.6rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 57.8%, 3PT: 36.3%, FT: 83.6%. In his senior year at Cal.Baptist (NCAA2) he played 25 games averaging 24.6ppg, 6.2rpg, 3.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 54.4%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 83.5%. He spoke to German Hoops about basketball.
Michael thanks for talking to German Hoops. Your from San Francisco, went to school in Riverside and now your in Crailsheim. Has it been kind of a culture shock concerning the geography? What kind of early beauty have you been able to take from Germany?
It has definitely been some what of a culture shock dealing with the time change and the language barrier of living in Germany but over the past few weeks I have come accustomed to the living.
Your starting your professional basketball career in Germany in the pro A with the Crailsheim Merlins. You were a lethal scorer in the NCAA2 and had a work out with the Los Angeles Lakers. How did you land with the Crailsheim Merlins? Did you get any advice from German teammate Kalidou Diouf?
I was able to land the job through the help of my agent Scott Nichols.
How did you experience your first summer transfer period coming from school. I can imagine that many professional teams were enticed by your scoring like from a team in Mexico where you had an offer. What was the deciding factor that made you chose the Crailsheim Merlins?
The deciding factor for me picking the Crailsheim Merlins was the type of culture that the organization presented. They are hard working and family based team. I also wanted to make sure that I started my career on a team that is fighting for a championship and with the Merlins I believe that we can do something special this season.
Head coach Tuomas Lisalo is impressed also with your team play and energy that you bring to the court. How have you grown to become a better team player in the last few years despite having had the big load of scoring at Cal Baptist?
My energy and team play comes directly from the coaching at Cal Baptist under Rick Croy. I was engraved to not only work hard but as well play as hard as I possibly can. Obviously I put in extra work but they definitely pushed me to my limits to help me become the player I am today. But regardless of the scoring, I have become a better player from a leadership standpoint and vocal leader.
How has it been in the early going playing in the back court with experienced Americans Michael Cufee and Chase Griffin? How have they helped you on the court most so far?
It´s been a blessing to be able to learn from Chase and Michael these past weeks. Both of them are ridiculous shooters that have been pushing me to compete at a higher level every day. I think they’ve helped me the most by being professionals and showing a young guy like myself how a professional basketball player presents themselves.
You shot 43% form outside as a sophomore and under 40% in your last two seasons with 39% as a senior. How confident are you that you can be a 40% shooter from downtown at the professional level?
I feel very confident that my shooting percentage will do fine in a professional level just because of the work I’ve been putting in every day.
You’re a guy that really is able to fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength I your game that doesn´t get noticed right away on the court?
A hidden strength that I have is definitely the way that I compete. Regardless of the kind of night I am having on the scoring sheet, I’m always going to compete to the highest level and play harder than my opponent.
You had a pre draft work out with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. What kind of experience was that for you playing against Markelle Fultz and in front of the eyes of NBA legend Magic Johnson and head coach Luke Walton?
I did have a pre draft workout with the LA Lakers but didn’t play against Markelle Fultz. I did learn a lot from a talk with coach Walton and feel as if I can compete at that level given the next opportunity I get.
You had a sensational career at Cal Baptist and really stepped it up in your last two seasons averaging more than 10 points more to your sophomore season. How do you feel did your game develop in your last two years? You stated once “I feel like I left a legacy that you don’t have to be the guy who’s highly recruited or even be a guy who was very good when he starts in college, or even high school”. In other words hard work on the court was a big reason for your huge leap in play?
I felt the success that I got from the court was from the extra work that I put in during the summer of my junior and senior year at CBU. I wanted to make sure that I trained like a professional and outwork everyone else.
You are the Lancers all-time leading scorer was All Pac West player of the year twice and won the All Pac West tournament in 2016. How do you forever want to be remembered as a player and person at Cal Baptist?
I want to be remembered as the hardest working and most driven player at Cal Baptist.
Thanks Michael for the chat.