Yep, Nottingham and Team Great Britain Maxi Basketball Coach Jimmy “Jumpshot” Smith, will become a British Citizen on Sunday 30 May 2021 in a citizenship ceremony at Bridgford Hall Registry Office, West Bridgford, Nottingham at 12.00 noon.
Embargoed until yesterday, Coach Smith actually shared his exciting news with us at the GB Maxis women’s performance camp last weekend, and so today we are delighted to provide some detail to the Basketball England news story that broke yesterday.
Over the past 45 years, “Coach Smith” has brought championships to the City of Nottingham and pioneered the teaching of “mini-basketball” to over 75,000 young people throughout the City of Nottingham, all districts of Nottinghamshire and beyond, while developing an infrastructure for children of all ages to participate in the sport.
Jimmy, originally from Baltimore, Maryland, USA and a 1976 graduate of Loyola University Maryland became the first full time Basketball Development Officer employed by a local authority in the United Kingdom when he was hired by Notts County Council Leisure Services in 1981.
Smith pioneered “the game” in areas where basketball had never been played, providing services to over 100 schools, building the sport’s foundation in City and County schools including Jesse Boot Junior School in the Bakersfield section, which is now the site of the Nottingham Wildcats Arena and Nottingham Academy.
As early as 1987, Coach Smith’s development programme was recognised by the English Basketball Fellowship Development Award and presented by 2nd Baron Lord Luke, KCVO, the patron of the fellowship to Nottinghamshire County Council.
Jimmy said, “It is a great honour for me to be inducted as a citizen of the United Kingdom. It is something I have been wanting to do for a long time and the “Lockdown” provided me with the opportunity to apply. I have appreciated being a part of life in the UK and the history of British Basketball and living and working in such a great country. I owe a great debt of gratitude and greatly admire Nottinghamshire County and the City of Nottingham communities of all cultures and right across the UK for welcoming me and befriending me and for whom I have served my whole adult life. Thank you for all the support I have had from education throughout the City and County as well as friends from our local clubs and throughout the whole country. The feeling of love and friendship I have received has been very much appreciated. In addition to the City of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire County Council and my Sports Service colleagues, my appreciation goes out to my family, Team GB Masters Programme, Basketball England, Mini-Basketball England, British Universities, The English Basketball Fellowship, Loyola University Maryland and to the massive number of players I’ve coached and to my coaching colleagues in the UK and across the world.”
The Story So Far
Immediately following graduation from Loyola University Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, Jimmy became the Greyhounds first European pro player and only the second foreign player to suit up for both the Leicester Riders (then known as Loughborough All Stars) and Nottingham Knights in the formative years of the English National League and British Basketball League(1976-84).
Jimmy, a 6-7 high flying jump shooter, who played a summer league season with the NBA Washington Wizards, could bring the house down with a blocked shot or a slam dunk in his playing days. His pro career scoring average of 24.6 points per game is still one of the all-time best in British Basketball, as he totalled 2970 career points in just over 100 games. His boundless energy, enthusiasm and skill in the sport in playing, teaching and developing the infrastructure for the sport, combined with the enthusiasm of an earlier generation of British Basketball’s pioneers and local volunteers who began promoting “basket-ball” in the post-World War II era.
In a few short years from Jimmy’s arrival in the City of Nottingham he had led Nottingham Knights (Men) to national championships in NBL Division I and National Trophy competitions (1980) and Nottingham Wildcats (Women) to national finalists at Wembley and European Ronchetti Cup (1984). However, Smith’s early achievements were often overshadowed by the success of Nottingham Forest’s Brian Clough/Peter Taylor teams and Nottingham’s ice skating World and Olympic Champions, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.
In 1981 Nottinghamshire County Council became the first local authority in the UK to hire a basketball development officer when they chose “Coach Smith” for the job. Now on the 40th Anniversary of that appointment, 31 of them under the auspices of the County Council, in partnership with Basketball England and Mini-Basketball England, “Jumpshot” pioneered the teaching of basketball in over 100 schools, throughout the City of Nottingham, and across Nottinghamshire and beyond while building an infrastructure for the game, which in current jargon is described as the “pathway” for development for clubs, officials, players and coaches. Working with Nottingham’s Basketball enthusiasts, Smith has had a hand in developing the game at every level in the City of Nottingham and the County, nationally and internationally from establishing central venue age group leagues for boys and girls and national age group squads(Nova Centurion) many of which are based at the Nottingham Wildcats Arena in Bakersfield, as well as leading City, County and England teams into national and international competition.
Jimmy established the Notts School of Basketball in 1984 with guest Great Britain Coach John Collins, County Coach Leon Hall and Noel Baker Derby’s Ian Wilson the first year, and was followed annually for the next 27 years with names like Mike Brey (Notre Dame), Pete Strickland (DeMatha High School,Irish National Team), Jack Bruen (Colgate U.), Cliff Warren (Georgia Tech) and Bob Flynn (Mount St. Mary’s) to name a few. Coach Smith also took trips to summer camps in the USA to increase his knowledge by learning from Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame Coach Morgan Wootten, his son Joe Wootten, and College Hall of Fame legend, Jim “Bowtie” Phelan(Mount St. Mary’s).
Jimmy co-founded and was the director of the Lord Byron International Basketball Tournament in partnership with Gedling Borough’s twin town, Holy Town of Messolonghi, Greece from 1994-2005 which was won by Notts Nova on two occasions, once by Mansfield Giants, once by Poznan(Poland) and seven times by teams from Messolonghi and region.
In the years 1998-2002, Coach Smith was the head coach for English Universities Women, in which he led his teams to 5 consecutive British championships and a perfect, 14-0 record which included 2 one point overtime wins versus Wales in Cardiff and Scotland at the University of Ulster in Belfast on the day of the Good Friday Agreement.
As Director of the Nottingham based Nova Squads for 28 years (1984-2012), over 80 players reached national teams, while another 25 gained scholarships to high schools and Universities in the USA. The squads won one national championship in 1994 and reached numerous Final Fours.
Jimmy was named Nottinghamshire Coach of the Year in 1998, in spite of both Nottingham Forest(Frank Clark) and Notts County Football Club(Sam Allardyce) winning promotion. Mini-Basketball England, uniquely, named their logo after him, “Little Jimmy Jumpshot” in 2012 and in the same year Coach Smith was accorded the Nottingham Post IMPACT ON LIFE AWARD and participated as a Gamesmaker at London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Fast forward to the present, during “Lockdown No. 3”, Coach Smith was appointed to the coaching staff of Team Great Britain’s Women’s Maxi Basketball Programme which will compete in European Championships in Malaga, Spain in June 2022 and are part of Basketball England’s Talent Pathway. He is also the author of a history of basketball (Running with the Greyhounds, A Century of Loyola Maryland Basketball History, 2014 and 2021 Editions). Locally Jimmy has continued his development work in schools and is currently the head coach of Jets Lady Jets Basketball Club based at the Portland Centre, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, which he has supported for the past 44 years.
We are very proud to be part of Coach Smith’s history!