After spending the past few months nailing jump shots all over the gym and getting plenty of hang time on slam dunks while playing professional basketball in Germany, Vandalia native Mike Smith is getting a deserved rest back at his home with parents Dale and Kelly Smith.
Smith returned to Vandalia from Germany this past week.
During his first season with Eisbaren Bremerhaven, Smith led his team with a .370 3-point percentage and averaged 8.32 points per game. He also averaged 3.47 rebounds and was fifth best with 1.47 assists per game as one of four players to participate in all 34 contests.
He started his rookie season by getting just 10 minutes per game until one of the team’s leading scorers went down with an injury.
He made the most of his opportunity by finishing nearly 20 of his final 26 games in double figures.
He scored more than 20 points in one game and led his team with 19 points in a loss to one of the better teams in the league.
“I had 10 points against Munich and we ended up beating them,” Smith said. “My confidence level was up (after that game)…”
Smith said the Euro-pean style of basketball took him a while to get adjusted to.
While he was not only adjusting to a unique style of play, he was making a big move from the power forward position he played in college to the small forward position.
“It was definitely a learning experience for me,” he said. “…I moved from setting the screens to where I was coming off screens for shots.”
Smith added that the fan base of his team and other crowds in the league added another challenge for all of the players on any given night.
“We averaged 5,000 fans per game,” he said. “The fans were crazy. They were the loudest gyms I’ve played in as they were bringing in drums and playing on horns. They also clapped during free throws…It’s crazy how much the fans can impact the game.”
Smith helped his relationship with fans by giving away tickets to games on his Facebook account and he would sigh autographs at every contest.
“The fans were always great,” said Smith who participated in many fan interacting events. “I said if I’ve ever became a professional that I would give back to the fans and the kids. ..I want to interact with the kids.”
Smith’s contributions, along with help from his teammates and the Eisbaren Bremerhaven home crowd, resulted in the team finishing with a 16-18 record. The squad was just two games out of earning a playoff spot.
“We had plenty of chances (to make the playoffs),” Smith said. “We lost some games we shouldn’t have. Towards the end of the season, we had a six game losing streak.”
Next on Smith’s agenda is his 1st Annual Mike Smith Basketball Camp being held June 13-16 at Van-Far High School for boys and girls players in 3rd-12th grades.
Registrations of $25, T-Shirt sizes, emergency contact information, and a parent/guardian’s signature must be submitted on a camp form by Friday, May 11.
For questions, call 573-594-2683.
“Just being from a small town, I know I’m a role model to some of the younger kids,” Smith said. “I want to teach them some things they’ve never heard of or have never seen. The main thing is I’ll be able to interact with everyone…I thought it would be great for the community and surrounding areas.”
After the camp, Smith is working with his agent to land a spot on an NBA Summer Team.
He’s expected to continue his training and travel all summer long.
Smith does have an option in his contract to return to Eisbaren Bremerhaven for a second season. He said his decision depends on how the summer goes and whatever offers he might receive in the pursuit of his dream to some day play basketball in the NBA.