Justin Smith To Transfer, Thanks Indiana Teammates, Fans in Tweet as He Exits
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Junior forward Justin Smith is leaving the Indiana basketball program, according to a statement released on Twitter by coach Archie Miller. Smith later tweeted out a word of thanks as well in making the transfer announcement.
Smith, a 6-foot-7 forward from Buffalo Grove, Ill., played in all 98 games in the past three years and was the team's second-leading scorer (10.4 points per game) and rebounder (5.2) this past season. Smith, an excellent student, graduated from IU's Kelley School of Business in three years, so he can transfer to another school and be able to play immediately.
Smith had entered his name in the 2020 NBA Draft last month, but recently removed his name from the list. He has one year of college eligibility remaining.
"Justin Smith and I had a conversation recently where we discussed his future and the feedback from the NBA,'' Miller said in a tweet on Friday afternoon. "In that discussion, he made the decision to graduate and transfer for his final season of eligibility.”
“I support his decision and wish Justin and his family all the best in this next chapter. I’m proud of his growth as a person, he’s a great young man and has been a terrific role model off the court and in the classroom. He obtained his degree in three years from IU’s Kelley School of Business and we thank him for all his contributions to Indiana University and our program. “
Smith mostly played at the small forward position for the Hoosiers, but he struggled to shoot well from the perimeter throughout his career. He shot just 25 percent from there-point range for his career (20-for-80), and made just 10 of 38 three-pointers this season.
He shot 50.7 percent from the field for his career, but the majority of his makes came either around the basket or as dunks. He was probably Indiana's best defender, and he certainly will be missed on that end of the floor.
Smith tweeted "thank you'' to the program, his teammates and Indiana fans later in the afternoon.
"After much thought, prayer and discussion with the people I trust, I have decided to enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer. I want to thank Indiana University, the IU Mens Basketball Program and the awesome fans of Indiana for three amazing years in pinstripes (sic).
"To my teammates, you are my brothers. I wish you nothing but the best on the bright path to complete our unfulfilled 2020 NCAA Tournament dreams.
"The Hoosier Experience, the Kelly (sic) Business School degree and the friends I've made in Bloomington in and outside of the basketball program will be forever treasured.''
The feedback Smith probably got from the NBA was that his average perimeter game doesn't extrapolate well to the next level. And since he has graduated, he also has college options to move on and not have to sit out a year.
Smith also might have been concerned about his own playing time at Indiana. His poor shooting from the 3-spot in the offense often caused issues in efficiency and productivity. He might be better suited to play more around the basket, and he would have had to fight for minutes there with Trayce Jackson-Davis, Joey Brunk and Race Thompson.
Jerome Hunter played well as Smith's backup a year ago and three of Indiana's signees in the Class of 2020 — Trey Galloway, Anthony Leal and Jordan Geromino — are all wing players. The fourth member of the class, point guard Khristian Lander, signed his letter of intent this week after reclassifying from the Class of 2021.
Smith's departure along with the transfer of sophomore Damezi Anderson last month, brings Indiana back to just 11 scholarship players.
Smith was recruited by Tom Crean before he was fired. He was a star at Stevenson High School in Illinois, He was ranked No. 91 overall in the class by Rivals.com and averaged 21 points and nearly 10 rebounds as a senior. He won a state title at Stevenson his sophomore year, paired with Villanova star Jalen Brunson. He just turned 21 years old in March.
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