Van-Far and ETSU graduate Mike Smith took one large step closer to making his dream become a reality last week when he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 NBA Development Draft on Friday, November 2.
Smith was selected by the Iowa Energy, a club based in Des Moines, Iowa that won the 2010-2011 NBA D-League championship. The team, which holds the league record for attendance, is led by new head coach Kevin Young.
Smith said this is a great step for his career.
“It was exciting (to be drafted,” Smith added. “I think it was more exciting for my family and fiancé personally. I just wanted to stay humble and use this as a stepping stone for my career. But of course I was excited for this new journey and am very thankful…I am overwhelmed by the support I have been given from the community and that I am very thankful for it. Everyone has been great.”
He added that he was excited about the team being just a little under five hours from Vandalia.
“It’s awesome to be playing this close to home,” Smith said. “It gives the family and friends and chance to possibly see me play again.”
No workouts or tryouts were required for Smith to get the attention of the NBA D-League. His resume, which included a successful first year at Eisbaren Bremerhaven in Germany, helped him take the next step in his career.
He still has some work ahead of him however to make the Iowa Energy team that is also the “minor league” feeder program for four NBA teams: Washington Wizards, New Orleans Hornets, Chicago Bulls, and Denver Nuggets.
Smith arrived in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday night, had a full Monday of meetings and physicals, followed by practice on Tuesday morning.
He is one of 17 guys who have reported to training camp and just 10 players make the roster during the two weeks of work.
The camp features players like Louisville’s Terrence Jennings and Florida State’s Ralph Mims. It also features several players who just got out of training camp with NBA teams and those who were cut by NBA squads.
“(This is) just a chance to showcase my talent and hopefully give me some good looks for the next level, whether it be back in Europe at a top level club or in the NBA,” mentioned Smith.
Smith said if his name wouldn’t have been called on draft night he would have either returned to Germany for professional basketball or played in another country depending on the offers he would have received. No matter what step Smith takes next, he said he’s thankful for the opportunity to share it with his fiancé Katie McMahon.
“It has definitely been a blessing for her to become a part of my life and for her to get to experience this stuff with me,” he said. “It has been very exciting for both of us. I think she was more excited than me when my name was announced Friday night and that I was gonna be in Des Moines, Iowa. That was a big plus for her, being able to play so close to home. But Katie has been nothing but supportive of me and my dreams and wouldn’t want it any other way.”