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Smith Shares NBA Summer League Experience

August 12, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Anthony Smith was a starter for the Indiana Pacers during the 2009 NBA Summer League in Orlanda, Fla. Smith helped the Pacers to a perfect 5-0 record.

Anthony Smith was a starter for the Indiana Pacers during the 2009 NBA Summer League in Orlanda, Fla. Smith helped the Pacers to a perfect 5-0 record.

Former Liberty men's basketball standout Anthony Smith helped the Indiana Pacers win the 2009 NBA Pepsi Pro Summer League, hosted by the Orlando Magic at the RDV Sportsplex in Orlando, Fla., last month.

Smith started four of the five games the Pacers played on their way to a perfect 5-0 record. Smith averaged a steady 5.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg and 0.8 apg over a 19.8 mpg average for the event.

The Pacers' summer league roster was headlined by current players Brandon Rush, Josh McRoberts and Roy Hibbert. Also featured on the roster were 2009 draft picks Tyler Hansbrough (13th overall) and A.J. Price (52nd overall).

Recently, caught up with Smith to find out more about the NBA Summer League experience. (LF): Anthony can you start off by giving us a general overview of the entire NBA Summer League experience?
Anthony Smith (AS): It was a great experience. The experience lets you really know where your pro potential stands. It was a good time to prove yourself to NBA scouts and general managers, especially if you are not one of the well know guys out there.

LF: Anthony, you started four the five games the Pacers played in the NBA Summer League, what feelings went through your mind when you heard head coach Jim O'Brien name you in the starting five for the first time?
AS: Excitement and a little bit of nervousness kept going through my mind. I never thought I would be starting games on the summer league team. I was just going down there to play . Needless to say, I was really excited, but a little nervous too.

LF: You were called upon at Liberty to rebound more the past couple of years because of a lack size of the roster. How did that help you in the summer league as you registered some high rebound games?
AS: Playing down low in college the past couple of years helped me a lot in the summer league. I am a lot more aggressive and stronger because I had to go after rebounds at Liberty. I know what it feels like to be banging down low with the big guys and developed a bit more toughness. I learned that size doesn't matter, but it's whoever wants the ball the most is the biggest key and it really helped me in Orlando this summer.

LF: Anthony, between training camp and the summer league, what are the differences you noticed between the collegiate game and the professional game?
AS: The biggest difference in the professional game is it's a lot of one-on-one iso-game. Defense is man-to-man, so if you get beat, you're by yourself. The practices are much more physical. I did sense the games were just as physical, just practices were more so.

LF: You were teammates with Tyler Hansbrough, one of the major faces of college basketball during your collegiate career. What was it like playing with such a formidable big man?
AS: Everyone knows that Tyler is a very tough player who plays hard all the time. He is a very cool guy and is very unselfish. It felt really good to play with a big-name big-man like that.

LF: What is the best advice you have received during the experience and who was it from? AS: My brother told me to just relax and play my game. Coach McKay told me to not worry about scoring, but to concentrate on the other things like rebounding and defense, because they already have scorers on their team. He said find your niche and do it really well. Coach Lester Connor with the Pacers told me to stay aggressive and keep shooting and play like myself.

LF: You are one of Liberty's most prolific three-point shooters, can you talk about the move you had to make to NBA-range three-point shots?
AS: There was a lot of repetition working on feeling comfortable from NBA distance. My personal trainer and I got a lot of threes up before or after workouts. It is a big step from the college to NBA, because that line is now a couple feet back. It makes it a lot harder to shoot off handoffs or off the dribble. I needed a lot of repetition and it took me a week or so before I started hitting them.

LF: How big of a part is your jump shot to your entire game?
AS: It is a huge part. I use my shot to get things off the bounce. I am not as quick as some of the other guys, so I try and use my pump fake to gain a step on the defender.

LF: What part of your LU experience has prepared you the best for professional basketball?
AS: I would have to say the coaching staffs. Between Coach Layer and his new staff and Coach McKay and his old staff, which also included Coach Layer at one point, everything they said proved to be true. All the individual workouts have prepared me for the pro-type drills I do now.