Maccabi Tel Aviv Is A First Indication That The Euroleague Could Be Realistic With Jaleen Smith´s(MHP Riesen) Game Continuing To Grow

Even if it is more than three years ago, the date March 23rd, 2018 will still be in the minds of some hardcore FC Bayern Munich fans as this was the night as a rare Eurocup feat was accomplished by ex Florida great Scottie Wilbekin. After coming off a sold 24 points showing in the Darussafaka’s nail biting 76-74 win in Turkey, Wilbekin didn’t shift up a gear, but actually a few more netting an unbelievable 41 points with 10 three’s and dumping FC Bayern Munich from the semi-final playoffs 87-84 and advancing to the final against Lok Kuban. 342 kilometers away, rookie Jaleen Smith (193-PG-94, college: UNH) was in between games having netted 6 points against Ehingen and on March 25th scored 6 points against Orange Academy. He was having a typical rookie season where ups and downs were the norm. But the most important thing was, his contribution did help the team win both games. Three years later Jaleen Smith is basketball wise in a totally different spectrum as he was able to attempt the next step to the easyCredit BBL after 2 years in the Pro A with the MLP Academics. Last season he showed no adjustment period time and became a solid BBL player in the regular season and then upped his game in the playoffs in the bubble in Munich. He continues to grow and develop as a player as this season he belongs to the best three guards in the league and is even a MVP candidate and fills the stat sheet the way Luka Doncic can distribute dimes on the court. In the past ex BBL players like American guards like Tyrese Rice and Ricky Hickman have showed that they are capable to make the next step to the Euroleague and played with Maccabi Tel Aviv. A next BBL player could make that same step. The Euroleague seems like it could become a real realistic occurrence for Jaleen Smith. His first taste of the Euroleage came recently when his name was mentioned on a well known basketball rumor site as Macabbi Tel Aviv was interested in his services. ‘I’m just excited that people are watching my game and that all my hard work can have me make another big jump in my career. I can’t wait for what the future holds this offseason’, stressed Jaleen Smith. He doesn’t want to think too much about the rumor mill, but he knows exactly what road he wants to go down on and where he wants to land. ‘I don’t recall that game, but it’s crazy that Wilbekin went off on Munich like that. I always dream about the NBA and Euroleague. That’s what motivates me everyday to be a better player to the game is because of it. Euroleague is the big goal for years to come and if a NBA team calls I’ll take it but if not I’m perfectly fine in Europe’, stated Jaleen Smith. He would love to duel against Scottie Wilbekin in a one on one game. That big names don’t scare him is already half the rent to being successful at high levels. ‘Playing against Scottie would be a battle man. The game would be close for sure. I think I would dogwood against Scottie though’, warned Jaleen Smith. Maccabi Tel Aviv is a first indication that the Euroleague could be realistic with Jaleen Smith‘s game continuing grow.

Miles Schmidt-Scheuber has been covering Jaleen Smith since his rookie season in Germany with the MLP Academics Heidelberg

Jaleen Smith was born on November 24th, 1994 in Freeport, Texas. His mom was a big fan of Michigan’s Fab four player Jalen Rose and named her son after him. Even though Smith’s first name is spelled with an extra e Jaleen, it is still pronounced as if it was Jalen. He got his first basketball experience at Brazosport High School where he averaged 17ppg, 10rpg, 6apg in his junior year and 19ppg, 8rpg, 6apg as a senior. He received numerous awards and achievements at Brazosport high school with HS 1st Team District 23-4A -11, 12, 13, HS Newcomer of the Year -11, HS 1st Team All-State -13 and HS TABC All-Star -13. He then continued his basketball career in the NCAA playing four years at the University of New Hampshire playing a total of 122 NCAA games. He did something there that isn’t often achieved by players and that was improving his scoring, rebounding and assists each season. As a freshman he averaged 5.6ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.2apg, FGP: 36.9%, 3PT: 29.6%, FT: 77.3%, but in his sophomore season averaged 34 minutes and averaged 10.7ppg, 5.2rpg, 2.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 46.5%, 3PT: 32.6%, FT: 80.5%. He scored in double figures in 22 games and had some masterful games against NJIT and Mass-Lowell scoring 17 points apiece. He continued to make steps in his game as he upped his game as a junior averaging 13.4ppg, 5.5rpg, 3.4apg, FGP: 42.9%, 3PT: 36.7%, FT: 90.0%. He scored in double figures in 22 games and already showed what he is capable of doing concerning filling the stat sheet and he posted 11/8/10 stats in a blow out win over Lyndon St in the first regular season game. He had some stellar games scoring 23 points apiece in wins over Bryant and UMBC. After averaging 34 minutes as a junior, he went to 36 minutes per game as a senior averaging 15.8ppg, 6.4rpg, 4.3apg, FGP: 52.4%, 3PT: 35.8%, FT: 78.1%. He scored in double figures in 27 games and scored 20 points or more in 12 games and hit Bryant with 28 points, Abil Christian for 27 points and Hartford for 27 points. He also celebrated his first triple double against Lesley with 20/10/10 stats. He reached the AEC semi-finals three times and the bitter 74-41 blow out loss against Vermont in his last game is one that he will never forget. ‘I was really disappointed in how we lost because I know we are a better team than what the score indicated. 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’, remembered Jaleen Smith. He grew so much as a player in the NCAA and will always be grateful for the guidance from head coach Bill Herrion. ‘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’, stressed Jaleen Smith. He was a AEC All-Tournament Team selection in 2015 and was a All-AEC 2nd Team selection in 2016 and 2017. He ended his career at New Hampshire as fifth leading scorer with 1,397 points, first in games at 122, and fifth in assists at 364. He also was the first player in Wild Cats history that had more than 1000 points, 260 assists and 600 rebounds.

He then embarked on a professional career in 2017 that brought him overseas to Germany to the ambitious pro A club MLP Academics Heidelberg. He came into the Pro A league as a player that could score the ball from all parts of the floor and could have an impact with his leadership skills. He compares his game to Paul George and played 34 games as a rookie averaging 7.6ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 45.6%, 3PT: 32.1%, FT: 80.3%. His rookie season was a difficult adjustment as his playing time dipped considerably from 36 to 21 minutes. ‘The adjustment was really tough. Just staying on the court the whole game to just half a game is really different. It was tough trying to be more efficient that was something really different also’, remembered Jaleen Smith. After averaging double figures in scoring in his last NCAA seasons, it was obvious that he wasn’t happy with his play as a rookie. ‘I can never be satisfied with anything I do. It just isn’t in my nature to be content. I had. I just want more you know. I just want it all’, warned Jaleen Smith. His leadership qualities were on display as he helped lead the team into the playoffs, but they couldn’t get by Trier who won a hard fought 5 game series. He was content though that he had been able to help the team also in other ways. ‘Just doing the little things for my team. Just doing the dirty work to help my team win games. Also learning all aspects of the defense like on and off ball defense’, stressed Jaleen Smith. He scored in double figures in 11 games including 19 points against Hamburg and 17 points against Trier. He shot 33% from outside and felt that he made strides as a shooter overseas, because he had the needed self-confidence as well as gaining early knowledge of the European game. Smith who remembers American Shy Ely as being his toughest cover in his rookie season remained a second season with the MLP Academics just to get a better grip on the Pro A and develop further in an up and coming league. In his second professional season he was able to make another jump in his game as his role and minutes increased from 21 to 28. Getting to be more on the court reminded him of his NCAA days where he lived on the court. ‘The more I played I knew I had to contribute someway on the court. Going into year 2 with the team I wanted to be more aggressive with the ball. I just wanted to give them another scoring option’, commented Jaleen Smith. He played 37 games averaging 12.7ppg, 3.9rpg, 2.7apg, 1.5spg, FGP: 58.6%, 3PT: 39.4%, FT: 84.2%. It was a massive improvement from his rookie season, but he wasn’t satisfied as he knew that his whole potential hadn’t been used. He has that killer mentality that a Russell Westbrook has. ‘I felt like I’ve could’ve done more this season. I sometimes would just be in the game just to be in the game. I can always get better from the season and I need to develop a killer mentality. I just have to win every match I have whether that’s practice or the game. I have to be better at staying aggressive’, expressed Jaleen Smith. He scored in double figures in 21 games including 26 points in a win over Kirchheim and 23 points in a victory over Chemnitz. He helped lead the club into the playoffs again, but this time escaped the first round. They sweped Ehingen where he averaged 13,0ppg, 5,0rpg and 5,0apg, but then lost 3-1 against Nurnberg where his game was slowed down as he only averaged 8,0ppg, 4,0rpg and 3,0apg. Despite the tough ending to the season, he was content that his game had progressed further including his outside hooting. ‘Going against guys like the guards we have in practice you’re only going to get better. I have more knowledge from being on the help side on defense this second season. I started my shooting pocket higher to have a quicker release. Also, keeping my follow through up and not jerking it so quickly’, warned Jaleen Smith. The American will forever be grateful for the MLP Academics Heidelberg that didn’t give up on him after his slow rookie season. ‘Signing a player out of a small Division 1 college as a rookie is always an experiment. How will his style of play translate to European basketball and how will he adapt to a different culture is key for success or failure. With regards to his stats Jaleen was struggeling in his first season. He didn’t even finish in the Top 100 in scoring within the second league. And bottom line is that you sign import players to produce numbers. We still decided to give him another shot, because we knew, what we had seen when we scouted him in the first place. On the other hand it was such a pleasure working with him, just having his positive mindset in the gym every day that gave the team that extra spark. So the coach (Branislav Ignjatovic) and I decided to stick with Jaleen against all odds basically and it paid off for both sides. But to be very honest: even we are surprised what kind of career Jaleen is having now and we are so happy for him. And it shows that sometimes you have to be patient when you believe in something. Like Jaleen, who had the strong belief to play on the highest level in Europe but he gave it time and didn’t quit after being behind his own expectations in the beginning’, warned MLP Academics Heidelberg manager Matthias Lautenschlager.

In his third professional season, he who lists Philadelphia 76ers player Shake Milton as his toughest cover in the NCAA made the next step landing in the easyCredit BBL with the MHP Risen Ludwigsburg. His arrival there was helped as his ex assistant coach from New Hampshire was an assistant for John Patrick. Patrick took the advice of Josh King and after a try out signed him and the rest is history. He helped the club have a terrific regular season and fought their way into the easyCredit final in the bubble in Munich. The club was stacked with talent and the roster was deep. But more important the team played together and had other vital attributes that helped them achieve success. ‘We just have a bunch of guys that are hungry and want to win. We play fearless no matter who the other team is and what players they have. Were going to play our game no matter what’, stressed Jaleen Smith. He scored in double figures in 11 games including 22 points against medi Bayreuth and 19 points against ratiopharm Ulm. In the bubble in Munich he scored in double figures in 7 of 9 games including 18 and 13 points over FC Bayern Munich who they defeated in the quarters. He also scored 14 points against ratiopharm Ulm and 15 points in the final loss to Alba Berlin. A big reason not only for the team success, but overall consistency and development of the organization has been head coach John Patrick who has stayed faithful to the club since 2013 when he came on board as a fireman having to save the team from moving down. ‘He just lets us play out our game. We know what our strengths are and our weaknesses are. We just focus on our strength and that’s defense’, stated Jaleen Smith. The club went into the bubble on a mission and didn’t disappoint as they achieved the upset disposing of top team FC Bayern Munich. ‘This is maybe the biggest thing in my young basketball career but there is still more work to be done this next coming week. Beating FC Bayern Munich is a huge feat. We can do something special here. You can feel everyone is locked in and knows the task at hand and that’s to win the championship. We do a great job of just staying together no matter the situation’, stressed Jaleen Smith. During the regular season, his play was up and down, but that was expected since it was his first season in the easyCredit BBL. He had 18 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in the second game against FC Bayern Munich advancing to the semi finals. ‘I would say it’s in my top 5 games of my career especially against a team like Munich’, said Jaleen Smith. The MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg played out their hearts in the final against Alba Berlin, but just didn’t have enough steam as they were clobbered in the first game 88-65 which paved the next title for Alba Berlin. They lost the last game 74-73, but Smith showed again why he belongs in the league posting 15 points, 4 boards, 6 assists and 5 steals. He opened up the fourth quarter with 7 points in a row showing his ability to score in bunches. He left the bubble as a better player. ‘I have grown a lot just playing point guard and watching a lot of film on my opponent on my own. From this tournament I’m going to take the mental part of the game a lot more serious’, added Jaleen Smith. He definitely left Ludwigsburg for the summer in 2020 a lot better than when he had arrived in August 2020. ‘I have learned a lot during the year Learning more defensively, playing a lot off the ball, etc. My mentality for the game has helped me a lot also’, expressed Jaleen Smith.

Let’s fast forward to April 2021. Jaleen Smith who lists his five favorite teammates of all-time with Niklas Ney, Tanner Leissner, Ronnel Jordan, Eric Palm, and Nick Weiler-Babb is in his second season with the MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg and the club has proved that consistency is the real deal and that last season wasn’t a fluke. They are currently in first place in the easyCredit BBL standings with a 26-2 record. The club recently had a 18 game winning streak that came to an end against the Crailsheim Merlins. It was one of their longest winning streaks ever where that winning mentality just gets etched in your mind. ‘I think that was the longest winning streak I have been a part of actually. I remember we won a lot in High School but never a streak like that. You just get the sense that your going to win every game no matter the situation or how the flow of the game is you just know your going to win the game by that buzzer sounds’, said Jaleen Smith. An amazing fact about their massive winning streak was that they were able to find ways to win in many different ways. There were games where they didn’t necessarily defend great allowing an access of 80 points, but their offense was good enough to score more points and other games where the offense wasn’t on full throttle, but the defense was brilliant which led the team to victory on many occasions. ‘We just know how to win. We have a lot of Veterans that have played a lot of basketball and we know how it takes to win games. That has been a great success for us this season is that we can outscore anybody and also we don’t allow teams to get comfortable on defense’, stressed Jaleen Smith. There are so many reasons why the club is successful, but the success isn’t self-evident. Often when a team is almost completely changed, it takes months and sometimes a whole season for the adjustment period, but with Ludwigsburg that wasn’t the case. Despite having almost a total facelift, success came right from the start. Once again the mastermind John Patrick was instrumental in bringing in the right mix of players. ‘He deserves a lot of it getting a whole new team almost and still continue the success we had last year is amazing. The team we had this year just really got together and we all have a goal to just win games no matter what it takes’, warned Jaleen Smith. Two big strengths this season have been making adjustments on the fly and having the necessary freedom on offense. ‘Making adjustments during the game is big time. Definitely helps when players are communicating on what they see on the sideline and telling players what we can’t see while were playing. Having so much freedom on offense is such a relief to have as a player because no shot is a bad shot in JPs eyes. Maybe with another coach it would be a crazy shot but that’s what makes us so dangerous is that we can go at anytime and break off our offense and go 1 on 1 if we see a match up we can take advantage of’, stressed Jaleen Smith.

Jaleen Smith who lists his personal NBA Mount Rushmore with legends Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaq, and Lebron James is surrounded by great talent and one of those is easyCredit BBL experienced guard Jordan Hulls who played at Indiana (NCAA) is in his fifth season in Germany and twice shot 50% from the parking lot with Bremerhaven had been part of the great guard trio in Wurzburg with Skyler Bowlin and Cameron Wells. With Ludwsigburg he is back on track with his shooting out the lights mentality shooting above 40%. But he is so much more than just a sniper. ‘Jordan has been amazing for us this season. He’s the best shooter I’ve played with in my career it feels like every time he shoots you know its going to go in. He brings shooting, playmaking ability, and a pesky defense to the team. He’s was a great pickup for the team’, stated Jaleen Smith.. Another great addition has been ex University of Kansas (NCAA) and 2018 Elite 8 participant American Barry Brown Jr who played in the G-League as a rookie with the Iowa Wolves averaging 13.3ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.2apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 51.3%, 3PT: 38.6%, FT: 83.1%. Often guys coming from the G-League, don’t understand how you play the right way overseas, but he has had no adjustment period being that consistent reliable scorer as he hit Crailsheim for 30 points and Chemnitz for 28 points. ‘He brings his 1 on 1 game to a whole new level. I don’t think no one in the league can stay in front of him. He defiantly has some of the G-league ability in his game to go for 30 on any given night. He just adds another dimension into our team when he comes in. He gives that extra jolt of offense when he plays’, said Jaleen Smith. Another player that has been very vital for the team success has been Cuban/German Yorman Polas Bartolo who is mainly known as that lock down defender, but over the years has developed a very versatile offensive game. He is one of those players that could be the difference between a title and not. ‘Having another defender like Yorman is amazing to learn from. I just be watching him in practice how he plays and he plays super had and he’s super competitive during games. He’s just a winner and you can see that’, stressed Jaleen Smith.

The American who last saw the movie Troy continues to make massive strides as a player. He is racking up insane stats with 15/7/5 stats in 35 minutes per game. Despite being the team leader, his drive to always get better is as strongly instilled in his mind as CSKA Moscow guard Mike James is to being the best guard in Europe. ‘Man looking at those numbers is insane. I still have to improve my three point shooting and my ability to finish in the lane, but what I’ve developed this season is a pull up jumper I can go to which has helped my game a lot’, added Jaleen Smith. His consistency this season is incredible as he has scored in double figures in 26 of 28 games. He has scored 20 points or more in six games, registered three double doubles and was close to a triple double against Wurzburg with 22 points, 11 boards and 8 dimes. He scored 26 points against Braunschweig and 24 points against BG Goettingen. Last season he had the opportunity to have the ball more in his hands instead of playing more off ball and that is something that has helped him continue to help grow his game this season. With so much scoring talent this season, he also has been able to help define another aspect of his game. ‘I think my playmaking skills has improved. I can really get my other teammates involved while also looking to create for my own shot’, commented Jaleen Smith. But there is still one thing missing from his game which could make the difference from being a top BBL player to being a reliable role player in the Euroleague. ‘I’m working on my consistent shooting throughout the season which is really the big hole in my game is I don’t shoot consistently from three’, warned Jaleen Smith. Besides continuing to grind and becoming that better player, Jaleen Smith has another thing engulfed in his head. Alba Berlin stuffed their title aspirations last season and this season the club may be ready for bringing that first title back to Ludwigsburg. ‘A lot of pieces are going to come into play to win a championship only time will tell’, warned Jaleen Smith. Not only Jaleen Smith is fixated on winning a title, but also his agent American Teddy Archer knows that no Maccabi Tel Aviv rumor will derail his client from the most important matter at hand. ‘It’s an honor to be mentioned with such a storied club, but Jaleen is working hard to bring a title to Ludwigsburg and isn’t getting ahead of himself’, warned Teddy Archer. 2021 will be a very interesting and exciting time for Jalen Smith as it could be a major turning point in his career. He has come a long way from his days at the University Of New Hampshire and is far from being satisfied. He has continued to move up the basketball ladder the last years and is still in route to climbing to the top. The easyCredit BBL continues to help bring guys up from lower divisions as Hamburg’s Kam Taylor who played in the pro B with Rhondorf has gotten interest from Alba Berlin for next season, ex pro B player Deandre Lansdowne who played with herten is trying to lead his team Strasburg into the Euroleague and who knows maybe next season we will see Jaleen Smith battling these guys in the Euroleague. It will be a Pro A reunion in the Euroleague.

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