2019 Draft Workouts: Derrik Smits

During the Pacers' second pre-draft workout, Butler center Derrik Smits -- the son of Pacers legend Rik Smits -- had the opportunity to show off his skills. Despite hurting his wrist during the workout, Smits was thankful for the opportunity and explained what areas of his game he's working on.

Derrik Smits Story

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2019 Draft Workouts: Derrik Smits

During the Pacers' second pre-draft workout, Butler center Derrik Smits -- the son of Pacers legend Rik Smits -- had the opportunity to show off his skills. Despite hurting his wrist during the workout, Smits was thankful for the opportunity and explained what areas of his game he's working on.
May 22, 2019  |  02:13

2019 Draft Workouts: Carsen Edwards

May 21, 2019 - Purdue point guard Carsen Edwards speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 21, 2019  |  01:52

2019 Draft Workouts: Nicolas Claxton

Georgia center Nicolas Claxton spoke to Pacers.com about his pre-draft workout. He talked about the boost he's received after a strong combine performance in Chicago and what he believes he could bring to an NBA roster.
May 22, 2019  |  01:43

2019 Draft Workouts: Lamar Stevens

May 22, 2019 - Penn State guard Lamar Stevens speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 22, 2019  |  01:21

2019 Draft Workouts: C.J. Elleby

May 22, 2019 - Washington State forward C.J. Elleby speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 22, 2019  |  01:15

2019 Draft Workouts: Martin Krampelj

May 22, 2019 - Creighton forward Martin Krampelj speaks with Pacers.com's Wheat Hotchkiss following his pre-draft workout with the Pacers at the St. Vincent Center.
May 22, 2019  |  01:46

Rik and Derrik Smits Both Ready to go to Work

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Rik Smits is moving back to Indianapolis next fall, to the only place in the United States that truly feels like home. He's got two good reasons. Maybe three.

His son, Derrik, will be playing at Butler, having transferred from Valparaiso. His daughter, Jasmine, works for the Pacers in their player development department. And he, as a matter of fact, is thinking of finding work as well, having grown bored with retirement.

"You're laughing, but I'm serious," he said over the telephone from Cave Creek, Arizona, where he has lived the past few years. "I'm ready for a job. I've been retired for what, 30-some years now? Has it been 30 years?"

Nineteen, actually.

"It seems like 30," he said. "I'm ready for a job again."

Smits, who retired in 2000 after 12 seasons with the Pacers, during which he became the franchise's second all-time leading scorer behind you-know-who, has had his Zionsville home up for sale since moving. Lance Stephenson was planning to buy it after rejoining the Pacers two years ago, then discussed renting it with an an option to buy if he received a contract extension, but ultimately didn't even rent it.

Smits might keep it on the market in case a buyer steps forward, but will move back in and feel less motivation to sell. He looks forward to reconnecting with Indianapolis after living in Cave Creek, which borders the north side of Phoenix and Scottsdale, because a man can only spend so many hours of his life riding motocross bikes in the desert.

"I've been riding my butt off for the last three years," he said. "The newness is wearing off. I'm really missing the friends back there."

He's missing the basketball, too. In Indianapolis, Smits will be able to watch Derrik play for Butler and attend more Pacers games, where his daughter will be working.

The dream, of course, is for Derrik to someday be playing in an NBA game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. He took a baby step toward that goal Tuesday when he participated in a pre-draft workout for the Pacers, but suffered an injury that made his left hand go numb about midway through the workout. He had just begun playing in a controlled halfcourt scrimmage, and had to sit out the rest of the session.

2019 DRAFT CENTRAL: Complete Coverage at Pacers.com/Draft »

That was disappointing, but hardly tragic. He was there just to get a critique from the Pacers' staff, and fully intends to play for Butler next season.

"A lot of feedback, see what I need to work on," he said of his mission.

He already knows what that is, really. So does his dad, of course, but both wanted for Derrik to hear it from professional evaluators. He needs to get stronger, he needs to rebound better, he needs to expand his shooting range, and he needs to defend better around the basket.

"He's got a ways to go," Rik said. "But he's got the ability, in my opinion."

Derrik, who at 7-foot-1 is three inches shorter than his dad, transferred to Butler because he felt restricted at Valparaiso. Rik hopes the change will enable his son to rediscover his perimeter shooting — "I saw him hit 11 3-pointers in a row one time" — and regain his physicality on defense.

Rik and Derrik both believe Derrik's development experienced a significant breakthrough last summer by playing for the Dutch national team in international competition in Italy. He went on to average 12.2 points on 59 percent shooting and 5.7 rebounds his junior season at Valpo despite playing just 21.8 minutes per game while splitting time with another 7-footer.

He also, in Dad's opinion, became more devoted to improvement.

Rik didn't begin playing basketball until he was 15 years old in The Netherlands, but developed quickly. Derrik, as one would expect from the son of an NBA player, began playing as soon as possible in youth leagues. He was born in September of 1996, so he was too young to have many memories of his father playing for the Pacers, but received plenty of personal mentoring — maybe too much, Rik believes now that he can look back on it. Although Derrik today calls his father "my role model," he didn't always want to hear it, as kids can be when Dad is offering advice, even if Dad was an NBA All-Star one season.

"I was probably throwing too much at him," Rik said. "And you know how kids are. They shut you out. That was my fault. I didn't learn until recently that I need to leave him alone for a while. And then I can go to him and say, 'Let me say one thing. Work on this for a while until you get it down. Then we'll move on to the next thing.'"

Derrik, unlike Rik, also had the typical modern-day American distractions of computers, video games, and cell phones. Rik was often tempted to tell him to stop playing and go work on his game, but restrained himself most of the time.

"I might have spoiled him a little bit, who knows?" Rik said.

There's still time, though, for Derrik to become a professional, if not in the NBA, then certainly overseas. Tuesday's aborted workout session was unfortunate, but it provided a satisfying circle-of-life moment for Rik to see his son in Pacers practice gear. Derrik will get more exposure against advanced competition next season at Butler, and then likely more workouts for NBA teams after that.

Dad will be on hand to watch it unfold, and perhaps throw in a word or two of advice. As long as it doesn't conflict with his job.

"Let me know if you hear of anything," Rik said.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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