Smith Punches Ticket To Pros With Wisconsin Herd Job
BY ZACH WADLEY ’14
4 MIN. READ
Growing up, boys all over the world, but especially in basketball-crazed Indiana, dream of the NBA. The bright lights, the big cities, the game’s greatest: it’s the pinnacle for those who play the game. So few actually find their way to the Association – just 1.2 percent of NCAA men’s basketball players make it to the NBA – and it’s even harder to hang around once there.
For Anderson University alum Micah Smith, the dream has been realized.
No, Smith won’t be taking the floor for an NBA team this year, but he will be making sure that the players are physically able to. Smith was recently hired by the Wisconsin Herd of the NBA G-League as their head athletic trainer. In his role, he will work with the Herd throughout the G-League season, while also providing support for the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks staff.
“What excites me the most about working with the Herd is the opportunity to work with athletes at a very high level, while being around a sport I truly love and enjoy,” said Smith.
Making it to pros as an athletic trainer is no easy feat in itself. Only two percent of athletic trainers work at the professional level according to the National Athletic Trainers Association, and Smith can now say he is one of them. It’s been a journey to reach this point.
Smith came to AU from North Central High School in Indianapolis. He declared athletic training as his major and played four years for Coach Owen Handy on the men’s basketball team.
After AU, Smith has been on a journey across America. He received his Master of Science in Health Care Administration, while also serving as an assistant athletic trainer at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. While in Texas, he interned with the NFL’s Houston Texans. From Texas, Smith traveled to Washington, D.C. to work as an assistant athletic trainer at Howard University. Along the way he earned another Master of Science degree with an Exercise Science Concentration in Sports Rehabilitation and Sports Psychology. He then headed back down south to serve as assistant athletic trainer at Arkansas Little-Rock.
Smith is well-traveled, well-educated, and most importantly well-prepared from his current role with the Herd. Some of that preparedness is thanks to his alma mater, whom he credits with giving him plenty of practical experience.
“I have worked with many different athletic trainers at different levels all with different educational backgrounds,” said Smith. “I feel the education I received at AU is on par with other institutions, including larger ones, because of the time that was invested into me as a student. I was able to receive plenty of individual time to strengthen my craft. AU is also blessed with a training facility that has resources and equipment.”
The resume looks like a constant climb for Smith, and while it might be true, it hasn’t come without a few bumps along the way. At AU, Handy calls Smith “perhaps the most resilient player he has ever coached.”
Following his sophomore year, Smith expected to be the starting point guard as a junior. However, a former Indiana All-Star transferred in and immediately assumed that spot. The following year, Smith again had every expectation of starting at the point. Once again though, a transfer came in and assumed the role.
“In both cases, I am sure Micah was disappointed,” said Handy. “But you would never have known from his attitude and effort. He ended up being the swiss army knife of our team for those two years, and because of his mental toughness was almost always on the court at the end of close games.”
Smith’s attitude translated to his post-grad life. He initially struggled to pass his certification exam, but has progressed through the ranks despite that.
“Combine the habits of character that Micah exhibited on the basketball court with a keen intellect, and you have a recipe for professional success in a competitive and demanding career field,” said Handy.
As Smith settles in with the Herd, he still has an eye on his ultimate professional goals. He would love to keep climbing the ladder to a full-time position with an NBA team, and he has his sights set on working with USA Basketball at the Olympics.
If his current career trajectory is any indication, Smith will put in the work to ensure he’s ready when the opportunity knocks.
Anderson University is on a mission to educate students for lives of faith and service, offering more than 60 undergraduate majors, 30 three-year degrees, 20 NCAA Division III intercollegiate sports, alongside adult and graduate programs. The private, liberal arts institution is fully accredited and recognized among top colleges for its business, computer science, cybersecurity, dance, engineering, nursing, and teacher education programs. Anderson University was established in 1917 in Anderson, Indiana, by the Church of God.