Before he got his deal with the Hornets, he seriously considered trying to become an NFL defensive back.
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Dennis Smith Jr.’s NBA career appeared to be at an end. Like anyone else, he weighed his options and landed on a career change. Unlike most people, he landed on yet another professional sport.
“I told my previous agent, ‘I’m not going overseas,’” Smith told HoopsHype. “If s— don’t work out, I’m just going to the NFL. I was dead-a– serious. I put on a lot of weight. I was going to try.”
Smith, 24, had just been cut from his fourth team in five years when he started to train for the transition as a defensive back. But before speaking to a single team, he got a one-year offer from the Hornets in September.
Nick Friedman, an assistant coach with the Hornets, trained the North Carolina native during his pre-draft process in 2017 before he was selected with the No. 9 pick by the Mavericks. The two remained in touch over the years and they ran into each other during open pickup runs in Miami. After a solid showing, Smith was invited back three more times, played well, and was offered the one-year deal.
“People were just trying to write me off,” Smith told HoopsHype. “I was like, you’ve got all these guys way older than me with whatever their situations are, and they’re getting an opportunity of this, that, and the third. I know I’m young. I’ve got time. I’m confident in myself.”
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