Do you remember Rik Smits? Of course you do. The Dunkin' Dutchman, as he was called, was the Tonto to Reggie Miller's Lone Ranger, giving the Pacers a legitimate inside presence during the playoffs in their 1990s heyday.
Now there's a new Smits carrying the basketball torch for the family name, and like his father, he's beginning to make waves in Indiana.
As covered by Fort Wayne TV network WANE and the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Derrik Smits is suddenly emerging as a legitimate Division I prospect as a 15-year-old in Indiana. The rising sophomore has yet to play a varsity game for his hometown Zionsville (Ind.) High, but he is a rising center prospect for the decorated Indy Spiece program.
Perhaps most significantly, the younger Smits is also rapidly growing into his father's rather sizable shoes, quite literally; in the past year, the teenager has grown six inches to his current height of 6-foot-9 (though the News-Sentinel reported that the teen claims he is already 6-foot-10) and seen his feet grow to a size 16 sneaker.
His game isn't anywhere nearly as refined as his father's, but Derrik Smits is already hard at work developing the kind of silky touch that his father flexed during his 12-year Pacers career.
Smits' coach with the U15 Indy Spiece program is Jim Reamer, who said it isn't hard to identify where the younger Smits has improved in the past 12 months.
"He's better," Reamer told the News-Sentinel, "and some of that is the inches. Some of that is being tougher and more competitive. Being able to make plays. Being able to take contact and finish plays.
"Derrik is probably about two inches behind his dad at the same age. If it stays that way, I'll take him at 7-2. I'll be good with that."
And while the younger Smits is still a far cry from his father's highlights, his Dad is also chipping in to help him close that gap.
"I work with my dad a lot," Derrik Smits told the News-Sentinel. "He's helped with my outside shot. We're working on down low and post moves. I need to rebound better."
Those rough edges certainly aren't scaring off any potential collegiate suitors. Smits has already visited Indiana and Purdue, and the News-Sentinel reported that he is expected to visit Butler and Xavier in June. Trips to Michigan, Michigan State and Mississippi State could also be in the offing.
For now, Smits doesn't have to worry about picking his next home. Rather, he can just focus on improving in the gym and letting his talent and size take care of everything else.
"Last year he had a hard time getting on the floor," Reamer told the News-Sentinel. "Now he gets on the floor and is able to compete. …
"He's got great feet. He's got great hands. He just had to learn how to play with contact and finish plays."
- Rik Smits