Now he is a first-year pro with a team in Sweden, with his latest game on March 8 in the top league in that European country.
The story of Smith and many other Americans is featured in Hoop Dreams In Europe: American Basketball Players Building Careers Overseas by David Driver, a native of Harrisonburg and the former sports editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, the Arlington Courier, and the Baltimore Examiner.
Driver is a graduate of Turner Ashby High in Rockingham County and a 1985 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University.
With March Madness about to begin, Driver catches up with some Americans whose careers have fallen off the map for some hoop fans – only because they are playing overseas.
Driver and his family lived in Hungary for three years and for the past 15 years has made return trips to that country and others in Europe. He has interviewed American men and women basketball players in 18 countries in Europe, with the most recent trip to Spain last October. On that trip, he saw two pro games in the women’s league and did stories on University of North Carolina graduate Taylor Koenen and Minnesota graduate Leslie Knight, who recently announced her retirement after playing in Spain since 2009.
Driver also was in Russia in 2018 and published a story for an alumni magazine on Errick McCollum, the brother of NBA star C.J. McCollum, who has played several years in Russia, including this season.
“I am not aware of a book that has this much content about American women playing pro basketball overseas, and especially in Europe,” Driver notes.
College programs with alumni featured with chapters in the book include Maryland, Dayton, Michigan State, George Washington, Washington State, North Carolina State, Hawaii, Loyola of Maryland, JMU, Western Illinois, Lehigh, Norfolk State, Oral Roberts, Cincinnati, Belmont, Fort Wayne, Georgetown, George Mason, Goshen, Xavier, William & Mary, DePaul, Buffalo, Saint Joseph’s, Santa Clara, La Salle, Delaware, North Carolina, Minnesota, Vermont and Massachusetts.
Countries included in the book are Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Romania, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, England, Belgium, Russia, Portugal, Poland, Serbia, Germany and Spain.
Here is what others are saying about the book:
- Scott Allen, sports reporter for The Washington Post: “For every college basketball star who overcomes the odds to reach the NBA or WNBA, there are dozens of others who continue their careers overseas. Well-traveled reporter David Driver shines a light on the fascinating lives of players pursuing their dreams abroad while navigating new cultures and languages.”
- Thom Loverro, long-time sports columnist with The Washington Times and author of 11 books: “Many basketball fans hear of college players they followed go to play in a foreign country and they disappear from view. But these players make a living playing the game they love and are introduced to new worlds and cultures in the process. David Driver reveals those adventures in this must-book for sports fans.”
- Mike Barber, Richmond Times-Dispatch: It isn’t the NBA or bust for American college players looking to make their living playing professional basketball. Finding a team, and sometimes a home, in a foreign country has been the path for many a former NCAA star. Himself a seasoned world traveler and vivid sports storyteller, David Driver takes us along for the adventure as these ballers keep hooping across the ocean in an effort to never give up their dribble. Driver serves up the flavor – on and off the court – of what life playing internationally is really all about in a book any fan of basketball or travel will enjoy.
Augusta Free Press, which has published numerous sports books, did the inside layout for the book while Maryland resident Russell Nemec designed and implemented the colorful front and back cover.