Senior Day in March will have one fewer speech than expected.
Indiana University forward Justin Smith chose to graduate and transfer from IU, according to a statement from the school. The 6-foot-7 forward from Buffalo Grove, IL, outside of Chicago, will look to round out his college career elsewhere. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in 30.4 minutes per game last season. He played in and started every game.
One of two remaining players recruited by former coach Tom Crean, Smith came to Bloomington as a 4-star recruit, who chose IU over Villanova, Xavier and Stanford. Current IU head coach Archie Miller helped Smith see improvements in points, rebounds and minutes over each of his three seasons. Smith declared for the NBA Draft while retaining his college eligibility both in 2019 and 2020 in order to get feedback from the pros. Guard Al Durham remains the only Crean holdover on IU’s current roster.
Smith’s time at Indiana can be characterized as polarizing. His best game as a Hoosier came March 2, 2019, as Indiana knocked off No.6 Michigan State at Assembly Hall. In that contest, he scored a career-high 24 points. However, Smith’s career 25% three-point shooting and frequent single-digit scoring outputs frustrated IU fans.
This news marks the sixth scholarship transfer out of the program since Miller took over the Indiana program in 2017. When Miller first took over, Curtis Jones and Grant Gelon transferred from the university in the months following. During this time last year, both Jake Forrester and Clifton Moore entered the NCAA transfer portal. Earlier this spring, Damezi Anderson left Indiana and transferred to Loyola Chicago.
Looking ahead, redshirt sophomore forward Jerome Hunter will slot in as the projected starter for IU. Last year, Hunter averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds, but improved as the season went along. He made 36.6% of his threes in Big Ten play. Also, Smith’s departure will likely lead to more playing time for forward Race Thompson and leads to an opening for incoming top-100 and 6-foot-6 freshman Jordan Geronimo, who exhibits a similar skill set to Smith.
Even after the reclassification of 5* PG Khristian Lander, IU has two scholarships available for the upcoming season. Smith will have immediate eligibility as a graduate transfer.
Featured Photo: IndianaHQ