Bryan Smithson is a 33 year old 183cm point guard from Kennsesaw, Georgia playing his sixth professional season and first with the EBBECKE WHITE WINGS. He has led the team to a 2-1 record this season since his arrival averaging 9,0ppg, 1,3rpg and 3,7apg. He began his career with North Cobb High School and then started his NCAA career with Middle Tennessee St. (NCAA) in 2004-2005 playing 30 games averaging 6.9ppg, 2.5rpg, 3.2apg, FGP: 38.3%, 3Pts: 31.1%. He then finished at North Carolina – Asheville (NCAA) playing 60 NCAA games and as a senior played 29 games averaging 16.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.1apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 45.1%, 3Pts: 41.1%, FT: 83.5%. He played his first three professional seasons in Germany with the Kirchheim Knights for two seasons where he was top 5 in the league in assists and also played a season with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA). He played the last two seasons in the Czech Republic with Turi Svitavy (Czech Republic-NBL) averaging 9.6ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.8apg, 1.9spg, FGP: 42.4%, 3PT: 38.5%, FT: 70.6% and with Dekstone Turi Svitavy (Czech Republic-NBL) averaging 8.5ppg, 3.1rpg, 2.9apg, FGP: 45.1%, 3PT: 34.9%, FT: 81.9%. He talked to germanhoops.com about basketball.
Bryan thanks for talking to germanhoops.com. Welcome back to Germany. This our seventh interview and it has been two and a half years since our last one. How has time flown by for you personally in the last few years?
Hello Miles, great to chat with you once again. The time has flown by so quickly that it scares me. I am sure most athletes feel this way when so much of our time is invested into the game.
You have signed with German team Pro A team EBBECKE WHITE WINGS. It took you a while to find a team this season. Was there less interest or did the right situation not come about?
I had plenty of interest throughout the summer but unfortunately, I did not get the deal I was looking for. I got married in July so I made the plan to wait for specific deals until the holidays and at that point I would negotiate more with teams who came to me. I did not get the deal I waited for, so I begin to negotiate with more teams during the holidays.
Your 33 years old now. Did the idea of retirement come into your mind in the last months as you were sitting around waiting for a team?
I knew that I was not ready for retirement , so I did not allow the thought to creep into my mind. I understand that I am not a player who can perform when I have one foot out the door.
Your back in Germany now. You played 82 Pro A games for Kirchheim and Heidelberg. What did you miss most about German basketball?
First and foremost, Germany is like a second home for my wife and I so coming back will always been an option. I missed the structure of the league and the fans who follow German basketball so closely. Those two things create a great environment for competition.
What was so appealing about joining the EBBECKE WHITE WINGS. How did they convince you best that this was the absolute best situation for you at the moment?
I had a similar situation come up in Czech a few years ago where the team was at the bottom and they had a minimal amount of time to climb out of that position. We ended up catching a great run and actually captured a playoff spot by the end of the season. I enjoyed the challenge of helping create change in the culture on and off the floor. I understand how difficult this can be and maybe I can assist my teammates with this experience. Also, there are some young talented players on the White Wings that I look forward to playing with.
You played twice against Hanau winning both games where you dropped 12 and 17 points in the wins. What memories do you have of the two games and do you remember head coach Simon Cote on the sidelines?
I do not have many memories of the games but I do remember Coach Simon always having his teams well prepared.
The club has a well known experienced player’s coach in Simon Cote who was assistant coach with Frankfurt when they won the 2004 BBL title. What kind of talks did you have with him and what did you like about him that helped you make the decision to sign with Hanau?
Like you said, Coach Simon is a player’s coach. I can speak freely with him and gain an understanding for what his expectations may be. All point guards understand just how important it is to have open communication with their coach. While speaking with Coach, I quickly understood that I could be myself with him and that he would have my back in difficult situations. Both were extremely important to me.
The EBBECKE WHITE WINGS have been struggling and want to stay in the Pro A. Do you feel pressure coming in?
I do not believe there is excess pressure. I understand the goal of the club and I will try to help them as much as I can. I also understand that I will only be able to control certain things so I will focus on those and keep improving.
With what kind of feeling are you going into this situation with your basketball abilities?
I am going in with lots of confidence and trusting in the things that make me an asset in this league.
Head coach Simon Cote describes you as a high character guy something any point guard should have to be. How are you a different kind of point guard compared to other guys just from your character?
I agree that high character should be at the top of the list for all point guards. Unfortunately, that is not as common as you are presenting. Those are flattering words for me considering I live a lot of life outside of basketball where I strive to be a good man. Aside from that, I separate myself by being multi dimensional and doing many things well. This allows me to stay on the floor in times where I may not be loading up the stat sheet.
Your 33 now. How do you feel? Do you feel like you have to do much more for your body to stay in shape then 4-5 years ago?
I feel great. I do not have to do more, but I have to be much smarter than 5 years ago. I understand my body and I implement maintenance programs throughout the year which keep me playing at a high level.
Your role is obvious. You will lead the team and try to turn the season around. How excited are you for this challenge and what kind of Bryan Smithson with Hanau and the German Pro A experience this time around?
I am very excited for this challenge. I am hoping that my maturity and experience will be visible this time around in Pro A. Obviously, it is late in the season and I want to make the adjustment period as smooth as possible.
You played the last two seasons in the first Czech republic league. What kind of experience was that for you and how would you describe the league and style to the German Pro A?
Playing in Czech was a great experience. I stayed with the same group of guys for 2 years and played for a professional club. The league is a bit top heavy with 2 champions league teams and 2 europe cup teams. Czech league is much more methodical than Pro A where guys are constantly attacking. Being a first league gives teams a balance of true big men where in Pro A there are more undersized bigs. Both are great leagues.
How do you feel did your game progress in the last two years there?
Anytime you see a different style of basketball it expands you as a player. I have improved in the pick and roll through a better understanding of spacing.
What was your fondest memory in the Czech Republic?
I enjoyed being with the same group of guys for 2 years. I was part of the winningest team in club history where we medaled in the national cup and made it to the semi finals of the playoffs before losing to Nymburk. We had a hard working team and I made a few great friends.
Last season you lost both games to top Czech Republic team CEZ Nymburk where you had some very good games. Were battles against top guard Eugene Lawrence a good test giving you the confidence to know you still have game at age 33?
I enjoyed every game we played against Nymburk. At that time, they were one of the best teams in Central Europe. Battling against Lawrence and Kendrick Ray can only help you improve and gain confidence. Nymburk is a professional organization that continues to be a juggernaut in Czech basketball.
What kind of experience was it playing possibly the last time with ex Michigan (NCAA) forward Brent Petway who isn’t playing at the moment and might have hung up his sneakers. Did you notice his special basketball abilities after having played a season with the Harlem Globetrotters?
I have known Pet since we were 14 years old. We grew up in the same area and played in the same circles. I have known his abilities for much longer than those who begin to follow him in Europe. The Harlem Globetrotters put his special leaping ability on the grand stage, but more impressive to me was that he was a Euroleague finalist and true professional. I helped get him to Svitavy where he helped make us a much smarter defensive team. I am proud to say he is my friend and even more proud to see everything he has accomplished in his career.
If you had to pick your personal favorite starting five of teammates over the years which players would you chose?
That is a difficult question and maybe better to answer this after I am done playing.
If you had to construct your very own NBA mount Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick?
As of today, the four heads on my Mount Rushmore would consist of : Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Pete Maravich.
What is your personal opinion about the never ending debate of who is the greatest between Michael Jordan and Lebron James? What was the last movie that you saw?
I am not a fan of this debate because in my mind it is not even an argument. Michael is the greatest for many reasons that stats will never show. Lebron is a great player, but comparing him to Mike is taking away from the greatness we are actually seeing from him.
Thanks Bryan for the chat.