Reporters’ notebook: Dontae Smith may get a chance to fly again

Georgia Tech running back Dontae Smith (4) is lifted in the air by offensive lineman Weston Franklin (72) after scoring a touchdown against Virginia during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Mike Caudill)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Georgia Tech running back Dontae Smith (4) is lifted in the air by offensive lineman Weston Franklin (72) after scoring a touchdown against Virginia during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Charlottesville, Va. (AP Photo/Mike Caudill)

The following, a weekly feature of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, allows our reporters to open their notebooks and provide even more information from our local teams that we cover daily. We think you’ll find it informative, insightful and fun.

First in flight

There has been a lot of talk in Midtown this week about a possible bowl game for the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech hasn’t played in one since the 2018 season but needs only one win over its final two games to become eligible for the postseason.

Dontae Smith is one of two current Jackets who were on the last Tech team to play a bowl game, the 2018 Quick Lane Bowl that Tech lost to Minnesota in Detroit. Smith recalled being able to be a part of that experience, his first road trip with the program.

“That was actually my first time on a plane,” he recalled. “It was scary.”

Smith wasn’t active as a freshman for that game. He has been a big part of the team in the four-plus seasons since, now resting inside the top 30 for career rushing yards in Tech history.

But the Tennessee native is yearning for a return to bowl season so he can show his teammates what it’s all about.

“Being able to go out and walk the city when you’re not practicing and be with your boys in a different area and just enjoying it, it was for sure fun,” Smith said. “I know that whatever bowl game that we get, this team, we’ll work, but we’ll also have fun.”

New tournament, new court

The NBA’s In-Season Tournament is well underway now, and the Hawks finally got in on the action.

They got their first chance to play on the NBA’s alternate court to commemorate tournament nights on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The Pistons used a grey court with an orange stripe that ran from baseline to baseline. For some it proved the first time or the first time in a long time that they have played on a fully painted court.

As the Hawks prepared to host their first In-Season Tournament game Friday, some members of the team were excited to see what their court will look like.

“Yeah, I’ve never played on the court that color or paint like that,” Hawks forward Saddiq Bey said. “It was actually cool.

“I don’t know how to describe it had a certain like aesthetic to it that was different playing basketball. I don’t know how to (explain) or I can’t compare it to anything, but it was good. I liked it. I’m definitely curious and want to see what ours looks like. It’s going to be popping. So, I’m excited to see.”

-Staff writers Lauren Williams and Chad Bishop contributed to this report.