BasketNews collaborator Uygar Karaca connected with Jamar Smith, one of the most prolific scorers in EuroCup history. The American guard currently ranks second with the most points scored in the history of the competition. He was also last year's EuroCup MVP and helped UNICS reach the EuroCup finals. 

Jamar Smith's well-known sharp-shooting skills have him on the top of the most 3-pointers made list. He's made 264 long-range shots in the EuroCup (with 44% accuracy).

Originally an Illinois Fighting Illini member between 2005 and 2007, he finished his college career at Southern Indiana University with 18.5 and 21.6 points per game averages. Smith started his overseas adventure with Prostejov in the Czech Republic and Galil Gilboa in Israel. He debuted in the EuroLeague with Brose Baskets Bamberg and later joined Limoges to win the French League and "Sixth Man of the Year" awards (2015). Smith continued his glory days in Unicaja Malaga, where he captured the EuroCup title (2017) and joined UNICS Kazan to rise to the EuroCup final once again. At 34, Smith is getting ready to carry fledgling Bahcesehir Koleji Istanbul to new heights with their new ambitions in the domestic and European scene. 

Jamar, thanks for joining us. You lived in many cities in Europe: in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Russia, and now you are in Istanbul. What are your first impressions? How is life in Istanbul? 

There are not so many cities like Istanbul. The life, the people, the culture. Everything is good for me and my family. The club's staff and everyone around me are very nice and embracing me and my family. I have always wanted to play in Istanbul, but I have never had the opportunity. It is just a blessing to be here. I had to take the opportunity when it became available. 

You played in EuroLeague and EuroCup, but you chose Bahcesehir Koleji to play in FIBA Europe Cup alongside with Basketball Super League on the domestic level. What was the decisive factor in this choice? What made you chose Bahcesehir? What is the ambition?

When I signed, the club was trying to figure out whether they were going to be playing in EuroCup or not. But the cups are never my ambition. 

It is the club's ambitions that matter to me. Who does the team have, and how do I see myself there? When I talked to the coach and administration, it was clear that the club would have higher ambitions or more success than they previously had. They told me about the players they are planning to sign, and I just saw myself fit in here. I have always wanted to be in Istanbul. It is a lot easier for my family to be here. I wanted to be a part of this success that we are going to have this season. We really can have something special. 

Regarding pre-season preparation games, Bahcesehir had a very good period. Currently, you won all your games, five out of five. What is your role on this team? What are the expectations? 

We played so many different games and experienced so many different scenarios. We've had games where we were in control, and then the opposing team made a run, and we had to kind of fight it out towards the end. So I'm happy with the way the team played in the success we've had in pre-season, and I'm hoping it carries over. I think that it will. 

My role will be the same as it was with every team that I've been on. I'm known to be a shooter, and I'll have the freedom to take shots, and my teammates expect me to do that. Speaking with the coach before I came here, he trusts me, he has a lot of respect for me and vice versa. So, you know, I just want to try and make sure that I'm able to stay healthy and score the ball at a high clip like I always have. 

Let's talk about last years' EuroCup finals. Do you feel heartbroken? UNICS was an excellent team that managed to eliminate Virtus Bologna, one of the competition's favorites. But still, it was AS Monaco who won the title. 

It's sports, man. It's the beauty of sports when you win everybody feels so happy and good. And when you lose, it's heartbreaking. You have to either have short-term memory or use your losses and those lessons as fuel. Fuel for the next season, fuel for the next game, fuel for the next day. I'm that type of person. It was a day or two of heartbreak, and then after that second day, it was like, "Okay, I have to get better." I looked inward and watched the games and saw where I made my mistakes, just trying to make sure that if I get myself in that position again, I won't make those mistakes. So it was more of a lesson than it was heartbreaking. 

Credit Bahcesehir

You worked with Dimitris Priftis for a considerably long period. What do you think about him and his potential in EuroLeague with Panathinaikos?

I'm so excited for him. He's been one of my favorite coaches to play for on and off the court, just such a great guy. I was blessed to have him for four years as a coach in my career. I feel like he helped me with a lot of aspects of my game that I didn't have before coming there, and I'm excited about him coaching EuroLeague. I think he's going to do very well. I think he's going to surprise a lot of people this year and EuroLeague, and he has Okaro White with them. And I think he is going to do the same thing. I think he's going to wake everybody up and show how good he really is and what he's capable of doing on the EuroLeague level. 

Let's go back to EuroCup title year in 2017. You were with Unicaja Malaga, coached by Joan Plaza, and it was a decisive game against the hosts Valencia. Malaga were shorthanded when starting center Dejan Musli was injured, and Alen Omic was disqualified after an altercation. You were also struggling, but in the end, you managed to spark an 18-0 run to bring the first continental title for Malaga in the last 16 years! 

Man, there were so many moments like that. Me and Joan Plaza had a good relationship and kind of a strange relationship. He's a coach that plays with you mentally. If you don't have a strong mentality, you can't handle it. But at the same time: I remember I had shot a three in the game, and I missed. I came back down, and I had the ball. Coach Plaza said, "Why not?" He told me to shoot it again. I shot it again, hit it. And after that, I felt like I was going to make everything. 

Sometimes, it felt like he took my confidence away because if you made a mistake or two, you were going to come out and sit for about 5 minutes. But at the same time, he gave me confidence in the first, the second game in Malaga, at a crucial period. Our whole team was kind of not in a rhythm during that series. After that, I felt good, I felt like our chances of winning were great. It's really one of the most unforgettable final series.

When you think of all those players as your teammates, who would you pick as your favorite center and guard? 

John Brown! I played with some great bigs with decorated careers, but I've never played with anybody that can do what John Brown could in my life. He is the best defender that I have ever played as a teammate. He can guard point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center. It doesn't matter. He doesn't get tired. If I'll ever was a coach, I would look for a guy, like, John Brown: %100. 

In the guards, I would say Errick McCollum. I really enjoyed playing with Eric, and I learned a lot from him. There were things that I was good at, and there were things that I wasn't good at, and he's very straight to the point, he would always tell you the truth. He told me the things that I needed to work on, and I needed to get better at. I learned how to manage the clock, I learned how to manage games. A lot of that came from Errick, even off-the-court things. He changed my life in ways like I could talk forever about Errick. He is, and probably will be, one of my friends until it's over. We're close outside of basketball. So I'm super blessed to have met him, played with him, and have him in my life.

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