Former IU basketball forward Justin Smith to play at Arkansas for senior season

Perhaps he saw something he liked?

Justin Smith will be playing for a team that Indiana faced three times in the last two seasons.

The recent IU graduate announced on his Twitter page on Monday afternoon that he will play his final season of college basketball at Arkansas.

Smith will become the sixth transfer to join the Razorbacks’ roster for the 2020-21 season as head coach Eric Musselman continues to rebuild that program.  Including freshmen the team projects to have 10 new faces.

Smith’s fit at Arkansas will be interesting.  The 6-foot-7 forward wants to play out on the wing, but Arkansas has added two other transfer forwards (Vance Jackson and Jalen Tate) with superior skills playing on the perimeter.

With Smith’s departure from the IU program, the Hoosiers now have just one former Tom Crean recruit remaining in guard Al Durham.  Smith will now see Crean again in the SEC this season.

The 6-foot-7 Smith shot 49.2 percent overall from the field in 2019-20, good for third on the team among those that played more than 10 minutes per contest.  Smith took just over one three-pointer per game and made 26.3 percent.  Smith was third on the team in points (10.4) and tied for second in rebounds (5.2) per game.

IU head coach Archie Miller released a statement after Smith announced his decision to transfer.

“Justin Smith and I had a conversation recently where we discussed his future, and the feedback from the NBA. 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 became one of Indiana’s best defenders over his three years at IU, but he struggled on the offensive end to develop a reliable perimeter shot.  Smith converted at a 25 percent rate from behind the arc for his career in Bloomington.  Although he is a dynamic athlete, Smith’s offensive repertoire was also limited by his inability to consistently drive and finish with his left hand.

For his IU career Smith appeared in 98 games, starting 73 times.  He scored 821 points and pulled down 419 rebounds over three seasons.  The power forward shot 50.7 percent from the field overall during his time at IU, and he converted on 62.3 percent of his attempts from the free throw line.

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