When people think of Fayetteville, N.C. they generally think of one person: J. Cole. By the time the NBA All-Star Weekend is done, he may have to share the marquee with his friend, Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr.
The former N.C. State guard is averaging 14.8 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.9 rebounds for a young Mavs squad, and has started every game he’s played. Uproxx recently had the chance to sit down with Smith, who told us about the adjustment from college to the NBA, having legends on and off the court on speed dial, and what it means to rep his hometown.
How does it feel to be participating in the Mountain Dew Rising Stars game?
I’m thankful for that opportunity. They’re a great team and a great business partner. The Rising Stars game, it’s a blessing to be a part of and I’m thankful for it.
Who are you looking forward to playing with in the game?
I like [Kyle] Kuzma a lot, and Brandon Ingram. That’s been my dog since high school. Fellow North Carolina guy.
What specifically do you like about Kuzma’s game?
He’s just got that confidence, he plays with that swag. Any time you play with a guy like that, they’re on course for big moments. One of those guys who could get hot at any moment, dude can really hoop.
You’re doing the dunk contest on Saturday, do you have anything planned for us?
Nah man, I’m gonna let my bounce and my swag take care of all that.
What’s your favorite non-Vince Carter dunk contest?
I think 2016, with Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine. I think that was a battle of epic proportions and I actually got to see that one live, too. That one was a great one to watch.
Years prior to that, the dunk contest had been kinda weak. Usually that was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, event of All-Star Weekend. It had gotten weak and they came out and brought the swag back to it, that one was a great one to catch live.