Former California Lutheran University basketball point guard Arik Smith signed with Italian basketball team N.B. SORA 2000 over the summer. Smith was a standout player during his time at Cal Lutheran and was picked to be a part of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All-Star Team that traveled to Italy to play exhibition games his senior year. He scored 27 points in a win over his current team, SORA, this past June. His play impressed SORA and they offered him a contract shortly after.
“I knew we had a special player with Arik,” said Rich Rider, Cal Lutheran’s head basketball coach and Smith’s former coach. “I think everyone recognized that and the nice part about it is that he accepted the responsibility of being a leader and he did not shy away from that responsibility at all.”
Rider was not the only one to recognize the talent he possesses, his teammates saw it as well.
“You can tell just by looking at him that he’s athletic,” senior guard on the Kingsmen basketball team and former teammate of Smith’s, Dan Wade said. “He works really hard and played so well his last two years at Cal Lutheran so I’m happy that he gets to continue playing professionally.”
Smith is currently in Italy gearing up for his professional basketball debut.
“It’s been quite an experience so far,” Smith said in an email interview. “The country itself is very beautiful and the people here are very friendly.”
Smith has been in Italy for almost a month and is transitioning into his new career.
“I get to focus completely on basketball now so the transition has been very easy. I am learning that there are some differences in the rules of the game overseas but I think overall I’m doing pretty well,” Smith said.
Smith said he is also learning just how different it is playing for a professional team instead of a college team.
“I have to hold myself more accountable now,” Smith said. “The coaches pay you to be here to do a job and perform and if you don’t do well or they feel you’re not a good fit they can send you back home.”
After his first professional season, Smith hopes to continue to get better and move up in the league.
“I’m hoping after this year I get noticed and picked up in a higher league,” Smith said. “I like Italy and wouldn’t mind staying here at all but I also wouldn’t mind playing in Germany, Spain, Australia or France.”
Smith’s former coach has high expectations for where Smith could potentially take his career.
“He’s a combination of a very good basketball player and an excellent athlete,” Rider said. “He has perseverance, he works hard and has high charter. He is going to be successful no matter what he does, but I know he is going to play for a long time.”
Smith said he is enjoying his new opportunity overseas and plans to make a name for himself during his time there, but there are still things from home he misses.
“The variety of food. I like Italian food but I have days where all I want is a burger from In-n-Out,” Smith said.
Published September 23rd, 2015