Adam Smith is a 25 year old 185cm point guard from Jonesboro, Georgia playing his second professional season and recently played with ES Chalon-Sur-Saone (France-ProA) averaging 12,3ppg, 2,1rpg and 3,3apg and in the Basketball Champions League averaged 13,5ppg, 3,5rpg and 4,0apg. Last season as a rookie he played with Mec-Energy Roseto (Italy-Serie A2) playing 37 games: Score-2(23.6ppg), 3.0rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 86.8%. He played at three NCAA schools from 2011-2016 with NC-Wilmington, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech playing a total of 112 NCAA games. In his senior year with Georgia Tech he played 35 games averaging 15.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 39.5%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 80.3%. He was released from ES Chalon-Sur-Saone on the eve of their Basketball Champions League game against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and spoke to German Hoops about his basketball career.
Adam thanks for talking to German Hoops. You didn´t make the trip to Germany to play in the Basketball Champions League against the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg on account of being released by ES Chalon-Sur-Saone. Would this have been your first time in Germany or have you been here before?
I have stopped in Germany before and have some friends playing here. I have heard that the BBL is a really good league. Many of their teams play in Euroleague, BCL and Eurocup which is a big market. If you play well in Germany, you can attract a lot of attention.
You have a very common name. I knew a Adam Smith in grade school. How many Adam Smith´s have you come upon in your life
Honestly I have never met one in person. All like to make the reference to the famous economist Adam Smith and his book “Invisible Hand”. It inspired me to read his book. The book wasn´t really my cup of tea, but it intrigued me to read it.
What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball? Do you have any friends playing professionally in Germany?
I know a few guys like Thomas Walkup who I would have played against in Ludwigsburg. We trained together a few summer ago in Phoenix with the Phoenix Suns. I also know Malik Mueller who plays with Bamberg. We were teammates at Virginia Tech for three years. Bryon Allen of the EWE Baskets is one of my good friends.
Your played briefly for Chalon putting up solid stats. After a great rookie season in Italy you needed no adjustment period. What were the main differences from the Italian Serie A-2 and the Pro A?
The level of competition was different. In France Pro A there was a lot of pick and roll, experienced players and it was very athletic. Plus you can use five Americans in France Pro A and only two in Italy 2. The adjustment wasn´t too big. I played shooting guard in Italy and point guard with Chalon.
Chalon have had some start problems in the France Pro A having a 1-7 record and lost five very close games that you could of won. Do you feel like the losing record is one of the reasons the club released you?
When teams lose at any level, they will look to make changes and look for the problems and make solutions. I think that losing so much made them in making the change with me. I have nothing bad to say about the organization Chalon. The club and I have to move forward. I learned a lot in the short time I was there. I thought that we were coming around. I felt we were improving. Losing makes you come together and you tend to fight harder in practice and games. I saw this fight and respected it a lot.
What is the next step for Adam Smith? I am sure you won´t be without a team long?
My agent and I are looking for our next best and right situation for me. I will take what I learned with Chalon and take it to my new team. I have nothing on the table yet and just waiting for the right opportunity. My stats were pretty good in Pro A and BCL and I would like to get with a team that is playing for a title. I feel that I could be a valuable piece for any team competing for a title.
How did it feel to be the leading scorer of Chalon in both the France Pro A and BCL that has talented and experienced guys like ex NBA players Kris Josepth, Mickale Gelable and Lance Harris?
It felt natural. It felt like I was playing my game. Scoring is simply what I am good at. I really loved playing in the Basketball Champions League. It is a very professional league. I really got up for those games and loved leading the team and it felt good except for the losing. I´ll never forget the Chalon fans. It was always a great atmosphere there. It is a very small French city and I was always amazed how well they supported their team. They are extremely loyal to the players and coach.
Does a young player like you feel in awe sometimes just being able to play and spend time with a guy like Mickale Gelable? Does the urge to ask some questions about his NBA days or time at Real Madrid come about or do you just leave him be?
We spoke a bit during my time there. He was a veteran and would come randomly to me giving advice while not saying so much. I learn important things from him like about how to handle one´s self at practice and at pre game. I just tried to soak in as much as possible form him.
Let´s talk about your game. You a pure scorer and have shown it from Jonesboro, through the NCAA at three schools and last season in Italy. Were you born with the scoring genes?
I think so. When I was five years old, my dad gave bought me a plastic ball and basket. That first night I took over 1000 shots. From then on, I just loved watching see the ball go through the hoop. It is the same way today. I just love being alone in the gym, putting on music and putting up 1500 shots. The gym is my sanctuary. Time flies by when I´m in the gym putting up shots.
Your obviously a guy that can score at ease, but also know when to set up your teammates, but if you had to compare your game to an NBA player who would come to mind?
I would say a Kyrie Irving. He can get to the basket when he wants to. I might not be able to do that as well as him, but I know how to shoot and find my teammates. I also have a nice variety moves and can shoot over any kind of guard. I can get all over the floor and get off any type of shot for myself or my teammates.
You’re a guy that can fill up the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that isn´t always noticed right away on the court?
My leadership qualities is a hidden strength in my game. I have become more vocal and lead by example. I feel that I am very mature for my age. Veterans like Kris Josepth, and Mickale Gelable have respected that about me.
You put up great stats in the NCAA, but when you decided to attend Georgia Tech so you could pursue a Masters Degree in Music Technology you stated the words of wisdom ““Hopefully, I get a chance to play professional basketball,” “But at some point, it’s going to end. Was there really some doubt in your mind that you couldn´t play professionally?
When your in college, you don´t really know anything else except what is going on there. I had known guys that had come over to Europe played ball and made money, but I myself had no idea what kind of process it was coming over here and being a professional basketball player. Coming over here is everybody´s dream. I was playing it safe when I made that quote, but really there was never any doubt in my mind that I could come over here and play professional ball. But you never know what can happen. You could suffer a career ending injury. You can only hope for the best.
Last season as a rookie you played for Mec-Energy Roseto (Italy-Serie A2) playing 37 games: Score-2(23.6ppg), 3.0rpg, 2.4apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 48.5%, 3PT: 41.5%, FT: 86.8%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from home in Georgia?
I was in a really good spot. I was right on the beach with great food. The people were all nice and treated me well. They really made me feel at home and we were winning and there wasn´t any pressure or stress. I was blessed that the coaching staff and teammates let me play my game and be successful. I know there was some doubt coming in, but as soon as they saw what I could do, they gave me free reigns to lead the team.
Last season you scored 20 points or more 24 times in 37 games. The Italian Serie A-2 is very respected, but did you sometimes feel like a man playing among boys?
No, no, it wasn´t as easy as people may have thought. After a while teams really keyed in on me putting double teams or box and one´s which made it more difficult for me as a rookie. But that is part of being a great professional. You have to be really good and what you do really good. I had to find different ways of getting open and getting off shots.
You were the only American last season with Roseto along with Brandon Sherrod who like you was a rookie from Yale. How important were you for each other and did you become friends for life?
Yes we are friends for life. Brandon and I are super close. We still talk to this day. He is doing really well again this season in Italy. He is really well cultured. He is really into food and traveling. I learned a lot of things from him in how to respect different cultures and sites because of his willingness to go out and do different things.
You played at three schools with NC-Wilmington, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. How did you benefit most from playing at three schools instead of only having had that experience at one school?
A lot of people look at my track record and think it must have been hard to bounce around so much and never really gets settled in one place. I learned so much in my years with three different schools. I saw different coaching styles. I was on the beach at NC Wilmington, in the mountains at Virginia Tech and in the city with Georgia Tech. I lived in three different environments and it helped me learn a lot in a short amount of time. I faced some adversity, but also had some great times. I would advise people never to go to three schools, but to welcome as much change as possible. Some may be afraid of this, but I like it.
You were a freshman at NC-Wilmington (NCAA) in 2011-2012 and played 30 games averaging 13.9ppg, 3.2rpg, 1.6apg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 33.3%, FT: 83.8%. . You were teammates with scoring guard KK Simmons who was a rookie in Germany last season and is now playing in Austria. What memories do you have of his game and did it shock you that he finished in the NAIA?
KK is one of my best friends in life. He is one of the funniest guys that I know. His game is similar to his personality. I saw him shoot some crazy shoots that went in. We were roommates there. I wasn´t shocked that he finished his career in the NAIA. He takes situations that he feels most comfortable in. I know that he could have been successful as much at a high division one school as much as in the NAIA.
After a solid freshman season you transferred to Virginia Tech on account of academic reasons. You credit head coach Buzz Williams in being very instrumental in your basketball development in your two seasons there. How did he help shape your game best?
Coach Buzz taught me a lot about life. He showed me how to truly work. I thought that I had always worked hard until I came to Virginia Tech. He pushed me past limits that I honestly never thought I could reach. He helped me instill a crazy work ethic. He produced so many great players like Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder or Wesley Matthews and numerous players in Europe. Every guy played hard and worked hard and it was all because of coach Buzz.
You played a season with talented German Mailk Mueller who is now on the roster of Euroleague team Brose Bamberg. What did you like most of his game and do you see him having a fine European career?
Malik is a very versatile player that can play the point guard position and if needed the stretch four because of his size. He is a good defender, is crafty and also plays hard. He is a great teammate and I see him having a long career in Europe.
You scored 15 points in a tough 91-86 OT loss to top NCAA school Duke that had a whole roster full of NBA players. When you remember the game of Tyus Jones does his skills and where he is now motivate you further each day to work harder in the gym?
Yes but not only Tyus. Not only Duke players, but the whole ACC is filled with NBA prospects. Playing against guys like that really lifts your confidence. I have trained a lot with Milwaukee Buck Malcolm Brogdan. He motivates me a lot and is one of the toughest players I have played against.
You played one more season at Georgia Tech (NCAA) playing 35 games averaging 15.3ppg, 2.3rpg, 1.9apg, FGP: 39.5%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 80.3% After creaming South Carolina you lost to San Diego State in the NIT Elite 8. What was your most memorable game there?
My most memorable game was playing Clemson in the ACC tournament in the first round. We were down by 20-25 points coming down the stretch. We never gave up, but always fought. It was the hardest that we had fought the whole season. All of a sudden when we looked up at the score board the game was tied with a few seconds to go. We pulled out the win. This game showed just how far we had come that season and what we were able to do as a team in the five months. When I look back at that game, I have so much more respect for my teammates and coaches.
How did head coach Brian Gregory give you that last push in your game to help you leave the NCAA satisfied and content about becoming a professional?
When I transferred there for my senior year, he reached out honestly to me and said how important it was for me to come back home. He simply let me play my game. He gave me a lot of confidence and I am forever grateful. Not every coach lets you do that at that level, because it is a system. Having this freedom and letting me play my game was crucial for my senior year. We had a successful season. A week before I started my professional career in Italy, I was still on the campus at Georgia State taking 1000 shots from the gun. I think going from there to Italy set the stage for me being successful overseas. I took a lot of confidence to Italy from there and that helped my game.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Tadric Jackson?
Definitely me. He was really athletic, but I had too many moves for him.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NCAA that is in the NBA now?
TJ Warren of the Phoenix Suns. When I played against him he was going through stretch where he was scoring between 35-45 shots a game. All you could try to do was slow him down, but I didn´t slow him down. He hit my team for 35 points. Another tough guy was Erik Greene who was my teammate and now plays with Euroleague team Valencia. He was leading the ACC in scoring. Going against him daily in practice really helped my game.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you chose?
Kyrie Irving, Lebron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the neverending debate of who is the best of all-time?
If you go by rings it´s Jordan, but by filling the stat sheet it´s Lebron. Lebron has created his own legacy. He just keeps getting better. When all is said and done there will be an answer to this question.
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?
No It isn´t. They made the playoffs. They wouldn´t have won games if he hadn´t played like that. He just plays the game so his team can win.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
Luke Kinnard of Duke. He is a lefty shooting guard. I think that as soon as he feels comfortable around midseason that he will make an immediate impact.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
They have enough. I have watched some of their games. They have all the necessary pieces to make a run. They play well together. They play fast paced and like to shoot the three like Golden State.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
Short term the Cavs got the better deal as they will make another run for the title. Long term the Celtics got the better deal. They have a good core of young talented players. When you take them and build it around Kyrie, then they will be successful down the road.
Where will the journey of the Oklahoma Thunder go this season with Westbrook, George and Anthony? Can they make a serious run in the west?
I don´t think they can. The talent of them and Golden State are similar, but the system is different. The system and how Golden State play makes them much better than the Thunder.
What was the last movie that you saw?
I saw the Pirates of the Caribbean. I am a big Johnny Depp fan.
Thanks Adam for the chat.