Jaleen Smith (193-PG-94, college: UNH) is a 26 year old 193cm guard from Freeport, Texas that is playing his fourth professional season and second with the MHP Riesen currently averaging 15,7ppg, 5,2rpg, 5,5apg and 1,8spg. Last season he played 28 games averaging 10.7ppg, 3.6rpg, 2.4apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.1%, 3PT: 33.6%, FT: 82,8%. In 2018-2019 he played with the MLP Academics Heidelberg (Germany-ProA) averaging 12,7ppg, 3,9rpg and 2,7apg. In his rookie season with Heidelberg he averaged 7,6ppg, 2,8rpg and 2,9apg. 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 before the start of the 2021 easyCredit BBL playoffs
Jalen thanks for talking to eurobasket. Before we talk about the playoffs, I have to ask you about the ending to Munich-Ulm. Do you feel for your neighbors ratiopharm Ulm for being robbed at the end on Wade Baldwin not getting a technical foul?
I was actually talking to someone when that happened at the end of the game That was a big change in the sequence of events in the game.
This does not shine a light on the league. Do you feel like the game or fourth quarter should be replayed?
I feel that the refs and the scorers table have to know when a player has five fouls. There just wasn’t enough time to make up the game.
The 2021 playoffs are here. With what feelings are you going into these playoffs in that there won’t be a bubble?
It will definitely be different. Now we won’t be playing in a neutral site, but the fans still won’t be there. Having two home games first throughout the playoffs is huge for us. We know that we will always have two games first and then we can steal one on the road.
The MHP Riesen finished the season at 30-4. How impressive is this record truly when you think of how screwed the season was with COVID being around?
Having the kind of record that we had was impressive. All 34 games were practice games without fans, but we still had to stay mentally strong and focused. We did a good job always getting the job done no matter what.
One can’t say that you ended the season great after losing two different one point games to Bamberg and Berlin on the road. What kind of an effect did these two loses have on the mentality of the club as they head into the BBL Playoffs?
I don’t think that these two close loses affected us mentally. Our goal after we clinched against Bonn was to stay fresh, but not get anybody hurt. It was a blow to Bamberg that Devon Hall got hurt. We wanted to prevent that and just finish the regular season in rhythm.
You didn’t play in the last loss to Bamberg. How motivated are you personally to battle in this series?
When that game was played, my son was born. I remember watching the second half. I’m so motivated now and just want to get the show on the road.
You split with Bamberg this season. What kind of a series can we await?
It’s a new season. They are a really tough team. They have a lot of guys that can shoot. They have good inside out bigs and we will have to key in on them. We know what their guards do and it will be on us to stop them. If we play the way that we are supposed to then we will get the job done.
What memories do you have of battling diminutive Benet Hundt. A pest like that would fit perfectly into John Patrick’s defensive philosophy.
Yes for sure. He would help especially in the full court press. He gets a lot of calls for his feistiness. You tend to see a lot of guys who could fit Patrick’s system. You have to wonder if JP is ever thinking about that player.
How proud were you of the only 4 team turnovers in the 94-93 loss despite you not even playing in the game?
We pride ourselves on getting on the offensive glass and taking care of the ball. When we do that good things happen. A guy like Jordan Hulls does a great job handling the ball. That speaks volumes for how good we take care of the ball.
Could the two team’s guard play determine this series? What will be key to reaching the semi-finals?
I think that the guard play will determine the series. If we do a good job guarding their guards well then good things will happen. On offense we have the green light. If we can make shots and plays will be the difference in this series.
How proud are you of your ex team MLP Academics wining the Pro A title and reaching the easyCredit BBL?
I told all my teammates how excited I am for them to reach the BBL. This is Frenki’s big chance. He always wanted to coach in the first league. I will continue to root and follow their games. Reaching the BBL is a blessing and experience for them.
Who will advance in the Alba Berlin-Hamburg Towers series? Will this be a Alba Berlin sweep despite Hamburg having swept the season series?
I think that Hamburg could win a game. It all depends if they will have Kam Taylor. If he plays then they will have a good chance, if not then they could get swept.
How do you see the Oldenburg-Ulm series. Could this go 5 games?
I could see this series going 5 games. Oldenburg is experienced and have guys who have been through it all. Ulm is playing hot now. I think that if Troy Caupain had still been in the game against Munich, then they would have won. Ulm didn’t have a guy who could make plays at the end. I think that Ulm will surprise a lot of people.
Are the Crailsheim Merlins pooped? Despite FC Bayern’s slumping in the BBL, could they sweep this series?
I believe Munich will sweep them, but Crailsheim will give them one tough game. It all depends how well Trae Bell-Haynes plays. He was awesome in the first game, but in the second game he had a tougher time. I believe that Crailsheim’s coach will have them ready and give a fight.
Did Russell Westbrook lose some haters since beating Oscar Robertson’s triple double record or will the haters continue to hate until he wins a title?
I think the haters will continue to hate until he wins a title. Most Wizards teammates have said that he was the best. He is always challenging guys. It is crazy how the narrative of the media is always twisting things and making him out to be the bad guy. Guys that barely know him praise him. That speaks volumes for how he stays true to himself and not have outside noise affect him.
Where do you see the journey of the Brooklyn Nets going in the post season? Can they reach the finals?
I don’t watch a lot of NBA, but when you see the roster that they have, then they have to reach the final. It is crazy how deep they are. But in the playoffs, you need to play defense. I’m sure the first round will be easy, but in the second round there is always some team that makes it tough. It will be interesting how well they can deal with adversary.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Cheaper by the dozen.
Thanks Jaleen for the chat.