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Smith Ready To Bring His A-Game

Bristol Flyers’ newest recruit Leslee Smith is hoping his past experiences can help propel the club back into the BBL Play-Offs this season.

The 25-year-old forward brings vital experience from NCAA Division One, where he averaged 3.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per game during his senior year at Nebraska.

“Playing in the ‘Big Ten’ you’d be going up against a lot of current NBA players night in, night out.” Smith told bristolflyers.co.uk.

“You had to bring your A-game every day or else you’d get blown out of the gym.

“We reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2014 and that was probably the highlight of my career so far because it hadn’t been done in years - we set a record there and we made history.”

Smith became the second new arrival to Andreas Kapoulas' side for 2016/17, and joined the club from Olimpi Tbilisi in Georgia’s top flight, where he made 17 appearances, averaging 18.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game.

“The traveling was the hardest part about playing in Georgia,” Smith admitted.

“A lot of people over there don’t speak any English at all, so we got really good at using hand signs!

“The European game is not as athletic and the game is a little more slowed down. They foul on fast breaks so you’d go up against set defence every time and that was something new for me.”

When asked how playing in Europe had developed his game, Smith said: “My shooting improved drastically during my time in Georgia.

“You had to be a really good shooter because the defensive three-second rule doesn't apply in Europe. If you can’t shoot, the bigs just sit inside and let you shoot all day.

“My style of play really depends on who I’m matched up against on the floor.

“I’ve always been a versatile player. If I have a bigger guy on me I’ll make him come out of the paint so he has to guard me out there, and once my shot is falling they’re going to have to put someone smaller on me and then I can go to the post.”

The Flyers failed to reach the play-offs for the first time at any level in their 12-year history last season, and Smith revealed head coach Kapoulas was quick to outline the club’s targets for the forthcoming campaign.

“I had a couple of video chats with Coach Kapoulas where he told me what his expectations are for this season,” he said.

“He wants us to make a play-off run this year, and I’m ready to help the team as much as I can.”

Smith continued: “I don’t know too much about the BBL, but I know some people who have played overseas and have said it’s a very respected league.

“I’m excited to play somewhere different this season and experience better competition.”

Keep up to date with the latest news throughout the off-season by liking ‘Bristol Flyers’ on Facebook, or following @BristolFlyers on Twitter.

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