Credit - Mike Schumann, The Daily Hoosier

IU basketball: Justin Smith to graduate and transfer from program

Forward Justin Smith will graduate and transfer from the IU program.

Head coach Archie Miller released the following statement on Friday morning:

“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 appeared in all 32 games for the 2019-20 season and started each contest.  The Illinois native averaged 30.3 minutes per game, which was an increase from his 24.7 minutes as a sophomore — and a team high.  He was one of three players to start every game along with Trayce Jackson-Davis and Al Durham.

The 6-foot-7 Smith shot 49.2 percent overall from the field, 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.

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.

With his degree in hand, Smith will be immediately eligible for the 2020-21 season.

Guard Al Durham is now the only player remaining on the Indiana roster from the Tom Crean era.  Durham and Smith were part of Crean’s 2017 recruiting class but never played for the former IU coach as a result of his firing in March, 2017.

The decision by Smith is likely to lead to significantly expanded roles for redshirt junior forward Race Thompson and redshirt sophomore forward Jerome Hunter.  Both players emerged as valuable contributors during the 2019-20 campaign.

Indiana now has 11 scholarship players for the 2020-21 season, with two openings.  The Hoosiers had 11 scholarship players in 2019-20.

UPDATE:

Smith released a statement on his Twitter page:

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