Jai Smith starts his day waking up at 8:00 a.m. for his Zoom classes. Then takes a little nap to rest up before the grind.
“My main workout is at four, where I lift to get big and strong, not just lifting-wise, but pro-stuff; working on ankle mobility to prevent injuries. After that, I have practice or go back to the gym to get some shots up, then I come back to the crib to shower, eat and play some 2K,” the Michigan State 2022 target said.
He’s got a busy schedule, putting the time in to improve and prove himself.
Smith’s Twitter bio is a reminder to keep going: “I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me. Phil 4:13”
“That’s a huge quote by me because I’ve seen it happen for myself over time. Hard work and perseverance after being doubted and told I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that, was my main pet peeve. But I can do all things through him,” Smith said.
He didn’t let the doubt stop him from achieving his goals. Instead, he used the doubt as fuel for motivation. Along the way, he found a group of guys that helped pick each other up too.
“No one ever believed. I was with a group of guys who went through the same thing. We were in the weight room every day. And we were like dang man, we’re not getting any PT [playing time], we’re just on the bench man. At the end of the day, we pick each other up and kept going. No one’s a lone wolf,” Smith said.
And that’s what you call teamwork. You want to talk about perseverance? Talk about Jai Smith. He continued to work hard and believe in himself, even when others didn’t. That’s tough! But it shows how bad he loves the game.
In improving himself, he learned from a few greats.
“I look at you and I learn from you. That’s what I learned from Kobe [Bryant]. If you mess me up one time, I’m going to learn from that and come back harder,” Smith said.
As for what he learned from a power forward like himself; James Mays, player for the Shandong Heroes: “I learned from his moves, how to use my strengths, but don’t overdo it. Learn how to use your weaknesses,” Smith said.
Finding his groove for the game, Smith is now planning out visits in April to check out some of his favorite schools. Schools that believe in themselves, like how Smith believes in himself.
“They stand out not only as a program, but they believed they could do whatever, they believed they could do everything, and they believe in themselves. I don’t want to go to a team where they’re like, we’re not this good of a program. They have had previous draft picks, and their names speak for themselves and the school. The most important thing is staying in contact. I want to go somewhere I’m welcomed.”
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