Coach Jimmy 'Jumpshot' Smith to become British citizen

Nottinghamshire coach Jimmy 'Jumpshot' Smith will become a British citizen on Sunday in a ceremony at Bridgford Hall Registry Office, Nottingham. 

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. 

Nottingham Wildcats Arena will host this weekend's WNBL final between Ipswich and CoLA Southwark Pride (Nottingham Wildcats)

Jimmy Smith 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.” 

Smith has taught basketball to over 75,000 young people in his career (Grantham Journal)

40 years in the making

Immediately following graduation from Loyola University Maryland, Jimmy became the 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). 

Involved with both the Nottingham Knights and also the Nottingham Wildcats, 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, 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 as he build a robust pathway to develop the sport for clubs, officials, players and coaches.

Coach Smith was appointed to the coaching staff of Team Great Britain’s Women’s Masters Basketball Programme which compete in European Championships in Malaga, Spain in June 2022 and are part of Basketball England’s Talent Pathway.