By: KYLE BENNETT
Editor: KYLE BENNETT
Photo Courtesy of: Google Images
Jason Smith is not your average guy. Mainly because the average guy isn’t 7’0, 240 lbs. and playing basketball in the NBA for the New Orleans Pelicans. Jason, a five- year veteran, is a class act and I was fortunate enough to interview him. He is one of the NBA’s most intelligent and humble players. For my interview, I wanted to gain insight on not only the NBA but also what he endured as a student athlete at Colorado State and the demand it has on someone who believes they have that “next level” talent.
KB: How do you think attending Colorado State University for three years better prepared you not only for the NBA, but life as well?
JS: Out of high school, I was still immature. Going to college not only helped mature me, but it gave me a perspective on how life was going to be and the responsibilities I would have to take on as a college student athlete.
KB: What was it like being a 1st round draft pick in the NBA?
JS: Being the 20th overall pick in 2007 was special. I was initially drafted by the Miami Heat and traded on draft night to Philadelphia. Knowing that a professional team wanted me in their organization gave me more incentive to work harder than ever.
KB: What is your opinion on the NBA allowing college students to enter the NBA draft after only one year of playing NCAA Basketball?
JS: I believe it is good for both sides. Everyone is not as talented like Kobe Bryant or Kevin Garnett to come right out of high school, so being able to stay in school can help a student athlete mature and ready himself for the pros over four years. It also gives the high school phenoms a chance to see what college is like and some of these kids may struggle in college, so the one year minimum is good for both aspects of student athletes that play basketball.
KB: What was the transition like playing in a big sports town like Philadelphia and then being traded to New Orleans?
JS: The transition was good. The city of New Orleans is great! Their fans show nothing but support for their teams. It’s a very fun atmosphere to play in. I have a house here with my wife and we both love the people, the food, and we certainly love the warm weather all year compared to the cold Philadelphia winters.
KB: Growing up, did you ever think the NBA would end up being a reality?
JS: I never thought it was possible, but after my first year of college, it clicked. I worked hard and I kept a humble mindset and stayed focused on my grades as well, because I would always have something to fall back on.
KB: What was your schedule like during college trying to fit in playing Division I basketball as well as balancing your classes?
JS: My schedule was rough. Having early morning weights and then 8 AM classes and only having an hour for lunch before practice, which could last up to 3 hours. Then we would have study halls or even night classes. My key to functioning was making sure I was eating healthy and planning out my schedule, which ties back to time management.
KB: What sacrifices did you make in order to get to where you are today?
JS: My social life. Being a student athlete, student comes first. Learning time management was key and eye opening while I was at school, but it also helped me in a lot of situations and helped me succeed.
KB: What advice would you give to a college student/athlete that wants to pursue the next level in his/her sport?
JS: My first question would be “Why do you want to?” If you are doing it for the money, the social life, and the girls or guys, you are in the wrong mindset. If you see your sport as a career, you just have to stay focused, be respectful with coaches and don’t burn bridges. Building relationships is the biggest thing in the next level of any sport. Organizations and coaches want to make sure they are not drafting a hazard, so make sure you are seeing the next level as a career, not a social gathering.
KB: What is your opinion on the New Orleans Hornets becoming the New Orleans Pelicans?
JS: I was iffy about it at first, but I believe it is a good change. I never realized how much the pelican is truly a part of the New Orleans culture. It is like when the Supersonics became the Thunder. It will take some getting used to, but the Pelicans are going to be a name and team to remember for years to come.