After stewing over his future for the last month, Michael (Reggie) Smith has decided to leave the Brandon University Bobcats men’s basketball team to turn pro.
Smith, who spent the past two seasons with the Bobcats, wasn’t sure how much playing time he would get this season with the team featuring an abundance of guards on the roster, including the likes of imports Ilarion Bonhomme and Kenonte Ramsey, former team scoring leader Emerick Ravier, as well as Turell Scott and new recruit Mikee Dosado. So, the 24-year-old Brampton, Ont., native asked his agent to look around for professional opportunities, and the Halifax Rainmen of the National Basketball League of Canada came calling.
After watching video of Smith play, the Rainmen offered him a contract. Smith, however, spent a month debating whether to stay in Brandon or head east. It was a tough decision as he likes Brandon and could finish his physical education degree this year, but he also wanted to get more playing time.
"I didn’t want to leave the Bobcats because I already spent two years here," said Smith, who plans to finish his degree after his playing days end. "In terms of the NBL, it was a good opportunity for me. I feel like I can play professionally. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s not something that I wanted to pass up once it’s there. It was there, so I went for it."
Smith was more of a role player for the Bobcats the last two seasons and is especially known for launching three-point shots. He started only two of the team’s 42 games, but averaged 18.8 minutes of playing time, racking up 343 points, 75 rebounds and 29 steals during his tenure in Brandon. Of his 126 career field goals made with the Bobcats, 59 came from downtown.
The 6-foot-2, 179-pound guard will be expected to be a three-point shooter and scoring threat for the Rainmen when the NBL season begins on Nov. 1, but he knows the training and pace of the games will be different than what he experienced during his past two seasons in Brandon.
"I’ve talked to a lot of my teammates and they said it’s rough," said Smith, who transfered to the Bobcats from the University of Regina Cougars in 2011. "It’s faster, there’s bigger guys. I have to run a huge mountain when I get to training camp, so I’m preparing for that.
"They told me that it’s professional basketball. It’s a job now. You have to be ready. You don’t have a choice. There’s no more learning it, you have to know it."
Moving to the Maritimes will be a new experience for Smith as he has never been that far east before. However, he has a lot of experience moving to new places. He had never been to Regina before he joined the Cougars to begin his university basketball career, and his only knowledge of Brandon before he moved here came from playing in the Wheat City as a Cougar.
Although he’s looking forward to starting the next phase of his basketball career in Halifax, Smith has decided to wait before moving to the Nova Scotia capital. Training camp begins on Oct. 12, and he’s staying in Brandon, a place he’s come to love, a little while longer to train and attend a few more classes before he joins his first professional team.
"Technically I can leave Brandon at any time, but I’m staying here because there’s no rush," he said. "I’ll do my training here and say my goodbyes and do it right."