Home » Athlete Spotlight » Athlete Spotlight: Derek Smith
Athlete Spotlight: Derek Smith
March 7, 2024

We recently had the privilege to sit down and chat with Everett Community College Men’s Basketball player, Derek Smith. Derek is a 22-year-old, Utah native who moved to Snohomish County last year for school. EVCC men’s basketball team is currently competing in NWAC playoffs, beginning tonight with a game against Southwestern Oregon. Read on to hear all about Derek’s basketball career, his experience playing for EVCC and much more.

SCSC: Tell me about your journey in sports.

SMITH: My dad was the high school basketball coach at our local high school for 14 years, so I grew up around a basketball coach. Both of my older brothers in high school played basketball so I was always going to high school practices and riding the bus with the high school players to games. They were kind of like my heroes at that age. I started playing rec league in middle school, nothing too serious. Later around that time, we started to put together some small travel basketball teams, and we traveled around Central Utah. And as we began to travel and play in other towns and schools, that’s where my love for the game really came from. As a competitor, I wanted to beat other schools and wanted to be one of the best schools and players in Utah. I really fell in love with the game. My dad retired from coaching the year before I entered high school. He didn’t want to coach me because he coached my brothers and wanted to sit back and watch when it was my turn. He was a great supporter of mine and put in tons of work. Both my parents supported me. Basketball was an escape, and I was a very competitive person, so putting those two together made me really fall in love with the game. I decided in high school, as I continued to progress as a player, I wanted to try and play at the college level. I wanted to prove that it can be done, just because not many people have done it coming from my little High School in Utah.

SCSC: What drew you over to this area and how did you get connected with Everett Community College?

SMITH: Right out of high school, I got in contact with Everett Community College, through their former head coach, Mike Troutman, who just retired last year. At that time, I decided to stay local and go to college in Utah. After playing there for a year, I wanted to look for a different option, and I was open to moving out of state. I have got back in contact with Coach Troutman again, who then connected me to the current head coach, Daniel Thompson. He was able to talk to me about Everett culture and the success the team has had in the past. He offered me a scholarship to come up here and I decided I wanted to come be a part of a winning program.

SCSC: What’s been your favorite part about living in Snohomish County so far?

SMITH: It’s a lot different than Utah. As far as school goes, I just love how close I get to live to such nice facilities, like the gym here is just fantastic. The weight room and all the facilities are so well taken care of. Anytime you walk into a classroom, the gym and the weight room, everything’s always so well taken care of and clean. And I really appreciate that.

SCSC: Are there any players or teams that inspire or influence you?

SMITH: Every basketball player has an NBA player that they look up to, and for me, its Trey Young with the Atlanta Hawks. His size in height, and also just his body composition and how he’s still able to play at such a high level, even though he’s small and relatively skinny in comparison to the other NBA players; he has never let that keep him down. He has found ways to succeed through speed and shooting the ball well. A lot of the ways that I try to play comes from watched lots and lots of Trey Young film and just how he has the ability to do what he does being smaller playing against a lot taller guys.

SCSC: Tell me how this current basketball season is going with Everett CC.

SMITH: The whole season has really been enjoyable. Early on, we were able to spend a three-day weekend over in Spokane. We also had one in Pasco and another two-night trip in Wenatchee. Some of those trips, especially early in the year, were probably the most memorable. It was such a great opportunity for us to really get to know each other. In Spokane earlier this year, we won all three of our games there, and in Pasco right before Christmas, we went 2-1. We were really starting to come together as a team on the court, but especially off the court, and that set us up to go through the good and the bad of our conference. We’ve won some really big conference and league games, but we’ve also lost some that we shouldn’t have lost. We’ve had a lot of adversity on and off the court as well, but I think some of those early trips that brought us together as a team have helped us stay focused and bounce back through tough losses. We have an opportunity to make the playoffs and I don’t think that would be the case if we didn’t experience some adversity on and off the court early in the year.

SCSC: Do you have any pre-game rituals?

SMITH: I have a couple. Before every game, I like to make sure I get into the gym and shoot around for a little bit. I also do a light lifting session just to wake up my mind and my body. As far as right before a game, nothing too crazy. I like to listen to upbeat happy music, different from what a lot of people would listen to, but it’s just something that gets my energy out. It gets the stress and nerves for the game out and allows me to be in the present moment.

SCSC: Thinking over your entire basketball career, what’s one moment that stands out to you the most?

SMITH: I think the moment that will always live with me in my head was senior night in high school. I had one of my highest scoring games, but also seeing the community support that night. It was the fullest I’ve seen our high school gym in all the years that I grew up going to games when my dad was coaching. The energy and support in there from a small town was something that I’ll never forget. It’s a game that I go back and watch every now and then to relive just how happy that game made me. High school basketball meant a lot to me, and it obviously meant a lot to my family. For that to be my last game there, it was very memorable and a little bit bittersweet, but overall, it was a really special moment.

SCSC: Where do you see basketball fitting into your future?

SMITH: I think that basketball has shaped me a lot as a person, whether I continue to play basketball or not. After this year, I’m looking at some different options of places to go play and get a few more opportunities if we can make the playoffs. As far as it fitting into my future, I definitely could see myself playing for another year or two after this at another school. If not, I think the things that I’ve learned through basketball over the years will really help me in the real world. Whether that’s in my career, or with a marriage or a family or whatever it may be. The things that sports can teach you, especially being a collegiate athlete and learning how to balance school, sports and a personal life, sets you up to be able to handle some of the adversities and setbacks that that life will bring. It’s really helped me to learn and grow a lot as a person. I’m just grateful for how it’s affected my life.

SCSC: What is the most important or influential piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?

SMITH: Believing in yourself. Whether it’s in high school or you get the opportunity to play at college, or if it turns into a career or whatever you choose, there’s always going to be times where you’re going to doubt yourself and other people are going to doubt you for whatever reason. Believing in yourself is one of the most powerful tools that you can have in your mind. I think if you truly believe in yourself, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to do. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but you just have to continue to believe in yourself day after day and you’re going to see the results that you want.

To keep up with EVCC athletics and the NWAC conference, visit Everett Community College (everettcc.edu). Go Trojans!