I had a change to chat with guard Tanner Smith (195-G-90, agency: Priority Sports, college: Clemson) this week and recorded an interview with the former Clemson Tiger. If there is one player who has vaulted himself and his team to the top of the must-watch list in the Dutch Basketball league, it has to be guard Tanner Smith of Landstede Zwolle. As he says in this EuroBasket.com interview, Smith wants to be champ and knows how tough that will be to accomplish. "It's not about money or names, but about how hard you play and how serious you take the game".
In this wide-ranging interview we talked about his basketballcareer and course about "Tanner's Tote", a a non-profit organization that fills tote bags for pre-teens and teens undergoing long term treatment in the hospital.
You grew up in Norcross, Georgia what was your childhood like? My childhood was extremely different than most. My father had been a dentist, but due to cancer treatment and life threatening Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD) he was unable to continue his practice. With his health problems, my father and I were unable to experience many of the father son activities like shooting the basketball around, throwing the football, going fishing, or anything that forced his to stand for long periods of time. I was also an only child, which taught me to be independent and confident with who I was and what I stood for.
When did you first realize you had a talent for basketball? My father was a walk-on at Tennessee Tech for his freshman year of college, and ever since I was a little kid, my dad and I both enjoyed basketball. I didn't realize I had a future in it until after my freshman year of high school. Halfway through my freshman year, I began to start on the varsity team with other freshman Howard (Trey) Thompkins, now with the LA Clippers, and Al-farouq Aminu, now with the New Orleans Hornets. With both of these guys on my team, my exposure to college coaches increased and also allowed me to play with one of the top AAU teams in the country, the Georgia Stars. I quit football and baseball after my freshman year and focused all my time on the court. I think that decision really payed off for me.
What were your basketball influences growing up? The two basketball influences I had growing up were my father and Mark Price. As a young boy growing up in Georgia, Mark Price was considered an icon in the basketball world. He was not only a great player, but a stand up guy and father. He was someone I could model my life after not only on the court but off it as well. Luckily, I have been able to form a great relationship with Mr. Price and his family through my high school and college days. He has been a life altering influence. It is amazing to be able to call my lifelong role model a lifelong friend.
What will you remember about your time at Clemson University the most? Clemson University was the perfect place for me and my family. I always dreamed of playing in the ACC, but also never imagined I would be good enough to play at that level. The highlights would be the relationships I made with the community, my teammates, and my coaches. I formed relationships with people that I will be in contact with for the rest of my life. Other highlights would be beating every ACC team while I was at Clemson, making the NCAA tournament 3 of my 4 years, playing for a top 10 team, and being able to call Clemson my home.
After 4 years of NCAA basketball with the Clemson Tigers you turned pro last summer. Was that something you always planned to do? And Tanner, how did you end up in Holland? I have always wanted to play professional basketball. I worked my entire life to fulfill a dream that I set for myself in the fourth grade. Holland seemed like the right fit for me for my first experience as a professional. I have been able to learn what the lifestyle is as a professional and what it takes to compete at an even higher level. My agent and I decided that Holland was the perfect fit for me, and I couldn't be happier with my decision.
How does Coach Van der Belt compare to previous coaches youve had? The style of basketball we play has been different from my college coaches, but he has helped me to understand the basics of the offense and allowing me to learn in myself at the same time. He treats his players with respect and teaches us to take ownership in the team. It has been a pleasure learning from him.
Now that youve been here for a few months, what are your impressions of the team and the city. Once again, the situation I have been blessed with has been fantastic. The city of Zwolle is full of history. I can't express how exciting it is to play basketball in a foreign country. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our team started out slow, but we have started to play better and understand our roles as the season has progressed. We have a great mix of young talent and experience that allows us to compete in every game.
At the age of twelve you started a non-profit company called Tanner's Totes. Tell me about Tanner's Totes. Tanner's Totes is a non-profit organization that fills tote bags for pre-teens and teens undergoing long term treatment in the hospital. We fill the totes with 60 to 70 worth of new items to help cheer up the patients days in the gloomy hospital rooms. In just ten years, we have delivered over 4,000 tote bags to over 40 hospitals in 25 different states (www.tannerstotes.com). Since we are non-profit, all donations we receive either go into buying the items used in filling the tote, or the shipping costs we acquire when sending totes cross country. The hospital pays nothing; the hospital patient pays nothing. With my father having his illness, we have been able to turn something bad into something good with Tanner's Totes.
Tanner, Understood that a number of children in Zwolle, organize an action "ALLOW CHILDREN WITH CANCER LAUGH, SUPPORT TANNER'S TOTES". Surprised by this initiative? I was blown away by the initiative the three girls took to raise money for Tanner's Totes. With the holidays around the corner, many children are thinking about what they want, so for 9 year old girls to think of others during this time of the year is truly inspirational.
Has your family been a strong source of support in your life? My family has been my support group throughout my life. Being an only child, my parents and I are a very close knit group. We have been through countless trials together with my dad's illness, and we come out better for it on the other end. Just a few weeks ago, my father had his left leg amputated. Obviously I was here playing, so the updates from my mom was the only thing connecting me to my family at a difficult time. My father is doing well in his recovery, but it has been difficult to sit here in the Netherlands while my family is going through a rough patch.
Back to basketball, The team is a very close-knit group, how important is that to help bring wins? Our team chemistry is great. Each player respects what everyone brings to the table. This respect on and off the court allows us to work together at a high level. The trust we have formed in just a few short months will hopefully take us a long way as the season progresses.
What's your mentality when the game is on the line in a pressure situation? During pressure situations, I remind myself of the hard work I have put in over the years. I know I have prepared for every scenario a game can throw at me. This allows me to play with confidence and provide what the team needs during high pressure situations. There are countless ways to change the outcome of a game and only one is scoring the basketball. You can't always control whether the ball goes in or not, but the energy and effort you bring to the game should be constant no matter what the scenario.
Finally, how far can Landstede Zwolle go this season? Which are the goals for you, personally, and for your team? I am excited to see where this team will be in a few months. We have all the pieces to compete for a championship. We need to continue to work every day to get better as a team, and for myself, constant improvement is a must if I want to help our team reach the ultimate prize of winning a championship.
Thanks Tanner for the time doing this interview. Wish You and Landstede Zwolle a successful season.
Orange Lions outscore DBL All-Stars, Schaftenaar MVP - 2 days ago
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Orange Lions outscore DBL All-Stars 109-100. Olaf Schaftenaar (208-F-93, college: Oregon St.) was named MVP of the game as he posted 26 points. DBL All-Stars looked better in the first half and posted two narrow victories to take a 6-point lead at the halftime. Orange Lions meanwhile replied with a 32-30 rally in the third quarter and then added a massive 25-12 burst in the last stanza. Chase Fieler (203-F-92, college: FGCU) poured in 18 points in a loss, whilst Drago Pasalic (208-C/F-84... [read more]
Orange Lions outscore DBL All-Stars 109-100. Olaf Schaftenaar (208-F-93, college: Oregon St.) was named MVP of the game as he posted 26 points. DBL All-Stars looked better in the first half and posted two narrow victories to take a 6-point lead at the halftime. Orange Lions meanwhile replied with a 32-30 rally in the third quarter and then added a massive 25-12 burst in the last stanza. Chase Fieler (203-F-92, college: FGCU) poured in 18 points in a loss, whilst Drago Pasalic (208-C/F-84, agency: Court Side) delivered 17. Daviyon Draper (201-F-94, college: FIU) won Schelde Sports Dunk Contest, while Maarten Bouwknecht (185-PG-94) was the best in Spalding 3-point shoot-out.
Team Nederland All-Star Bouwknecht Van Der Horst Mladenovic Kherrazi Oudendag 2 Maarten Bouwknecht (185-PG-94) of Den Bosch 5 Dimeo Van Der Horst (197-G/F-91) of Amsterdam - 8 Stefan Mladenovic (190-G-90) of Groningen - 9 Mohamed Kherrazi (200-F-90) of Leiden 14 Nick Oudendag (210-C-87) of Zwolle 15 Olaf Schaftenaar (208-F-93) of Zwolle MVP 24 Jessey Voorn (197-SG-90) of Leiden - 25 Sean Cunningham (188-PG-86) of Groningen 44 Arvin Slagter (191-G-85) of Groningen... [read more]
Best players of Dutch Eredivisie round 20 - 2 days ago
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Maarten Bouwknecht (185-PG-94) had a very impressive game in the last round for Dukes UDB and that's him to receive a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 20. The 22-year old playmaker had the game-high 24 points adding six rebounds and four assists for Dukes UDB in his team's victory, helping them to outclass Leeuwarden (#7, 6-14) with 48-point margin 103-55. Dukes UDB maintains the 4th position in Dutch Eredivisie. Dukes UDB is a typical solid league team placed somewhere i... [read more]
Maarten Bouwknecht (185-PG-94) had a very impressive game in the last round for Dukes UDB and that's him to receive a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 20. The 22-year old playmaker had the game-high 24 points adding six rebounds and four assists for Dukes UDB in his team's victory, helping them to outclass Leeuwarden (#7, 6-14) with 48-point margin 103-55. Dukes UDB maintains the 4th position in Dutch Eredivisie. Dukes UDB is a typical solid league team placed somewhere in the middle or a little bit lower in the standings. They need more victories to improve their 10-10 record. In the team's last game Bouwknecht had a remarkable six three-pointers out of 10 attempts. It's his second year at Dukes UDB and it's hard to imagine this team without him. Maarten Bouwknecht averages this season 10.4ppg.
The second most remarkable performance in last round's games was another Dukes UDB's star - American forward Charles Mitchell (203-F, agency: Three Eye Sports). Mitchell impressed basketball fans with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Of course together with Bouwknecht he helped Dukes UDB with another comfortable win outscoring the lower-ranked Leeuwarden (#7, 6-14) 103-55. Dukes UDB's 4th position in the standings has not changed. His team's 10-10 record is not bad at all. Mitchell is a newcomer at Dukes UDB and it seems he did not have too much trouble to become one of team's leaders.
The third best performed player last round was another Dukes UDB's star - American Justin Watts (196-G/F-90). Watts showcased his all-around game by recording 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the last round. He was another key player of Dukes UDB, helping his team with a 103-55 easy win against the lower-ranked Leeuwarden (#7, 6-14). Dukes UDB needs these victories very badly if they think about getting closer to top teams. Their record at this point is 10 victories and 10 lost games. Watts has a very solid season. In 11 games in Holland he scored 13.3ppg.
Other top performing players last week: 4. J.T. Yoho (198-F-93) of Zwolle - 23 points and 10 rebounds 5. Andrew Smith (206-F-92) of Groningen - 13 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists 6. Olaf Schaftenaar (208-F-93) of Zwolle - 19 points and 7 rebounds 7. Clayton Vette (202-C-88) of Zwolle - 16 points and 10 rebounds 8. Marcel Aarts (213-C-83) of Dukes UDB - 11 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists 9. Sergio de Randamie (201-PF-84) of Amsterdam - 24 points and 5 rebounds 10. Jason Dourisseau (196-F/G-83) of Groningen - 13 points and 6 rebounds
The Player of the week is chosen based on efficiency calculation, but also including game result, importance of the game, if played recorded double-double/triple-double, etc. The efficiency formula is a combination of various formulas used by different basketball organizations/leagues. We got involved many basketball scouts and journalists to assure it's accuracy. The formula: 1.5*PTS + 3* (REB+AST+ST+BL-TO) - 2*BSAG - 4*PF + 3*PFRV + 4* (2FGPM+3FGPM) + 1.5*FTM - 3* (2FGPA-2FGPM) - 3* (3FGPA-3FGPM) - (FTA-FTM)
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