Mavs rookie Dennis Smith Jr. has signed with Under Armour, according to ESPN.com’s Nick DePaula.
Smith, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, will join his new teammate Seth Curry in representing the upstart company on the court. Seth’s brother, two-time MVP and reigning NBA champion Stephen Curry, is the most high-profile basketball player signed with UA. DePaula reported that Smith Jr. will instantly become one of the company’s featured talents.
“I am definitely excited to be a part of team Under Armour as I get ready to go into [training] camp for my rookie year,” Smith said. “Under Armour is an explosive brand in basketball right now, and I’m excited to join Stephen and Seth and the team at UA in making our mark together.”
When you think of sneaker deals, your first instinct might be to envision the Nike swoosh or Jumpman. Kris Stone, Under Armour’s pro basketball sports marketing director, embraces the underdog mentality and even attached the label to Smith, who was the fifth point guard drafted but, after a convincing performance at the Las Vegas Summer League, is already one of the favorites for Rookie of the Year.
“If you look at all the other brands we’re competing with, we’re not even a quarter of their size and we’re the underdog. Dennis was overlooked in the draft. We’re both still trying to climb a mountain,” Stone said. “He has a lot of hunger to be on top. Hopefully, we can really partner with him and not just have some transactional relationship. We’re looking to have a real partnership with him and help him get to those places that he wants to go.”
The Curry Bros., who both also hail from Smith’s native North Carolina, first became intensely familiar with the Mavs rookie’s game in 2015, when he was the talk of the SC30 camp, winning the one-on-one tournament and performing this highlight-reel play that produced a pretty hilarious reaction from Steph.
Smith and Seth Curry worked out together at the Mavs practice facility earlier in the summer, and Seth made a couple appearances at the Mavs’ Summer League games in Vegas. The two already already have a chemistry, which could serve them very well this season — especially if they become the starting backcourt. Even if they don’t start together, however, it’s always good for young players to develop relationships with the veterans around them. And given how meteoric Seth’s rise was last season, and how amazing Steph’s career has also been, Smith could do much worse than becoming close with the Currys.
“Seth was able to spend some time with him, and Seth was telling me how good of a person he is,” Stone told DePaula. “Coming from Seth, and understanding what the Curry family is all about, that really resonated with us.”
Smith dazzled in Las Vegas, drawing the attention of the league and its juggernaut footwear companies. Now all that’s left is the real games, which are approaching fast. Considering all the excitement surrounding Smith — not only locally, but nationally now — he could very well begin his rookie year as a must-watch player. The Mavs might have gotten themselves a good one.