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#TGW: Last Big Shot

July 13, 2015

Watch the entire interview

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

Adam Smith lives for the big shot.

Just about every day during the summer, the, a 6-1, 170-pound guard can be seen be out on the practice court at Zelnak Center living it — again and again and again. He won’t leave the court he makes that game-winning jumper at least 300 times.

“It was either Ray Allen or Steph Curry, they said they were doing that at one point in time,” said Smith, who has found a way to fit in the 300 along with weight training, individual workouts, workouts with his personal trainer, and even a couple of graduate-level summer classes. “I tried to set that goal for myself. Starting last summer I did it. It proved successful. It’s kind of hard to get those 300 makes in but every opportunity I have I take advantage of it.

“The moves vary,” he added. “Sometimes I shoot threes, sometimes it’s twos, other times it’s one-dribble, two-dribble pull-ups, crossovers, step-backs, stuff like that. It depends on how well I’m shooting. Usually I get about 50 free throw makes in, just to get my arms going, get my form right. Then I go spot-shooting, have to go every two seconds. Two seconds, maybe 15 shots per spot. So I probably go around and back at least once. That will get me to like 300 makes.”

The results from the routine, which he estimates takes him in the neighborhood of 50 minutes to an hour, speak for themselves. Last season, as a Virginia Tech Hokie, Smith led the ACC in three-point shooting, canning 42.4 percent of his shots (81-of-131). That was not only a career-best year, but was 23 more three-point field goals better than his previous high of 58, made as a freshman at UNC-Wilmington and was 66 points higher than his junior season at Virginia Tech. Smith had a streak of 12 straight double-digit scoring games for Va. Tech last season and recorded six of the team’s top 12 scoring games.

That Smith, a Jonesboro, Ga., native, would use his one year of eligibility remaining after completing his undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech is as much of a dream come true for him as it is for Coach Brian Gregory, whose Jackets shot 26.7 percent from three last season, making 3.1 per game, both last in the conference.

“I’m happy but, of course, my mom and dad are THRILLED,” said Smith, who played high school ball at Fayette High School, where he was named first-team all-state by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a junior, then second-team All-America by Parade — the only Georgian to make the list. “I really didn’t have any intentions when I was transferring of getting back home. It just happened to work out that way. It seemed like a great opportunity when Coach [Gregory] and [the staff] reached out to me.

“I was already familiar with the team because of ACC connections,” he added. “We scouted them, I knew what they had, I knew who they had coming back. It just seemed like a great opportunity to get back closer to home, with family and friends, as well as playing opportunity.”

There was no shortage of schools lining up to get even one year with the ACC’s leading three-point shooter, but in the end, the lure of Kansas State, San Diego State and Memphis all fell short to the opportunity to come home. The decision became even clearer once the choices were narrowed to Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, and Georgia State.

“The ACC, it’s awesome, and Coach Gregory,” Smith said. “I felt really comfortable with the staff and I met the players. I already knew Marcus [Georges-Hunt], and Chuck (senior Charles Mitchell) and (graduate student and fellow transfer) Nick (Jacobs) just from growing up playing high school ball in Atlanta. So it just felt really comfortable for me.”

After a few weeks as a student-athlete at on the Flats it still does.

“It’s been a smooth transition,” he said. “One of the younger guys, [freshman] Sylvester [Ogbonda] and I are taking a class together. It’s pretty cool. I like the professors. I’m getting to know the campus better. I’ve been enjoying myself.”

Smith has felt so at home that he’s already taken on a leadership role in trying to get other Jackets involved in his practice ritual. He’s found takers in Jacobs, Ogbonda, sophomore guard Tadric Jackson and junior forward Quinton Stephens.

“When I first got here I was working out with my trainer, Dorian Lee. He has a program, B’Ball 101,” Smith said. “He urged me to get all my teammates in there with him. I’ve taken Nick over there, Sylvester, he’s worked out with him and Tadric. He shoots with me often as well.”

Getting teammates to join him hasn’t been difficult. They see his track record and saw him up close last Feb. 9, when Smith had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting, a modest 1-for-3 from three-point range, 2-for-3 from the line, with, four rebounds and a steal in 34 minutes, in the Hokies’ come-from-behind 65-63 win in Blacksburg.

Smith believes the Jackets have the talent to make a quantum leap this season.

“Really it’s just the work ethic. When you put in the work you get the results,” he said. “That’s natural to me. Hopefully I kind of lead by example. Like I tell them every time I’m coming to the gym, `If you want to get in with me let’s get it.’ [Stephens] and I play 1-on-1 a lot. `Q’ is a great shooter, 6-6, can stroke it. I haven’t seen anyone shoot the ball like him, a 6-6 kid in the ACC in a while. We play a lot of 1-on-1. He’s really competitive. I like that about him. `Q’ knows how to work.”

Getting the right shot has been as important for Smith off the floor, where he’s taking classes toward a master’s in the digital media program with an eye toward one day owning a production studio or possibly work as an analyst/personality for ESPN

“I really enjoy video production. Back when I was at Virginia Tech I worked for their web site, doing, interviewing other athletes, recapping games, talking about future games. I really enjoyed doing that,” he said. “I really liked working in front of the camera.”

Being the one doing the interviewing athletes was a nice reversal of roles and one in which he quickly excelled and found a niche.

“I think it was fun for them because it was kind of easier to relate than someone coming from like the Roanoke Times or a bigger news station or something like that,” he said. “It was easier to relate to me because they see me on campus all the time. Some of us had previous relationships. I think that made them more comfortable with me doing the interviewing.”

He’ll be happy with one more season behind the camera, however, and bring a reversal of fortunes to the Yellow Jackets, who last season finished 12-19, 3-15 in ACC play, but 13 of their 15 conference losses came by seven-or-fewer points.

“It’s really just doing what I can, taking advantage of every opportunity,” he said. “Whether it’s to knock down a shot or get somebody else a shot. Just recognizing those opportunities when I’m open, when I can make a play and when they’re open, and recognizing the opportunity in game situations. In those close games, just making the right play. I’m feel like I can help in that area.”

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