Maryland guard enters the transfer portal

Maryland guard Serrel Smith is leaving the program.
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Maryland guard Serrel Smith has entered the transfer portal, the program announced Tuesday.

Smith, who averaged 1.5 points and shot 25 percent from the field last season as a sophomore, is the third player to transfer from the program this offseason, joining forwards Joshua Tomaic and Ricky Lindo, two other little-used players on last year’s Big Ten regular season championship team.

“I want to thank Maryland and Coach [Mark] Turgeon for these past two years - they have been nothing but amazing,” Smith said in a school release. “My time at Maryland was filled with memories and relationships that I will always cherish! After careful consideration, I have decided to enter my name in the NCAA transfer portal and explore my options.”

Smith was a late addition to the Terps’ 2018 class after decommitting from Ole Miss following a coaching change. He earned playing time as the team’s fifth guard as a freshman, but had his opportunities cut in half by rising sophomore Hakim Hart last year.

Hart seemingly overtook Smith in the rotation towards the end of the season and Turgeon said last month he expects the 6-foot-7 Philadelphia guard to take the biggest leap among all his players next season. He called Hart a “significant” piece on next year’s team, making Smith potentially the odd-man out of a backcourt rotation that loses Anthony Cowan but adds freshmen Marcus Dockery and Aquan Smart.

“We said it in our last team meeting when the season ended and we were all crying, crushed that the season ended, I said in front of the whole team, I said, ‘Hakim, man, you’ve got to make that jump. We’re all counting on you to make that jump. If you make that jump and learn how to practice hard and play hard, compete and get a little more physical and don’t be afraid of contact, we can stay where we are.’”

Smith played over Hart for most of the season in large part due to his work ethic. Turgeon praised the 6-foot-4, 175 pound guard throughout the season for his commitment to the team. He bought into his role fully following the team’s back-to-back losses to Penn State and Seton Hall in December, elevating Turgeon’s trust and respect for him.

"I told him after the first practice [after break], 'I love your attitude and I appreciate it.' A lot of guys wouldn't have gotten back on the plane. He got back on the plane and came back with a great attitude. I know his mom and dad are constantly talking to him. They're competitors, he's a competitor. He's been really good in practice, so he'll be our fifth guard tomorrow," Turgeon said in January.

"There's a lot of things that come into play. And I don't want to get into all that. But sometimes you just have to hit the switch of, to reality, and the way it should be and the way it's gonna be and just lock in and just be a part of something great into Maryland basketball. And that's what he's done. He loves his teammates his teammates love him."

Smith, a Florida native, should have plenty of transfer suitors, but could benefit from moving down a level. He will likely have to sit out next year before playing out his final two years of collegiate eligibility.

“Serrel did everything we asked of him the last two years and we are appreciative of his contributions to the program,” said Turgeon. “He was a great person to coach and a great teammate who helped lead us to a Big Ten Championship. We wish him nothing the best.”