Justin Smith to leave IU as grad transfer

UPDATED

Just days after adding Khristian Lander to the 2020-21 roster, the Indiana men’s basketball program announced the subtraction of rising senior Justin Smith on Friday.

Smith, who started all 32 games as a junior while averaging 10.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per game, will depart as a graduate transfer after previously declaring for the NBA Draft.

“Justin Smith and I had a conversation recently where we discussed his future and the feedback from the NBA,” IU coach Archie Miller said in a statement. “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 of his contributions to Indiana University and our program.”

Smith is the second Hoosier to transfer this offseason. Damezi Anderson transferred to Loyola (Chicago) earlier this month, but Anderson struggled to find time on the court. Smith did not.

The 6-foot-7 forward appeared in 98 games as a Hoosier under Miller, despite originally signing with Indiana under Tom Crean. He started 73 of those games, averaging 8.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. For his career, Smith shot 50.7 percent from the field, 62.3 percent on free throws and 25 percent on 3-pointers.

“After much thought, prayer and discussion with people I trust, I have decided to enter the transfer portal as a graduate transfer,” Smith posted on Twitter Friday afternoon. “I want to thank Indiana University, the IU Mens Basketball program and the awesome fans of Indiana for three amazing years in pinstripes.

“To my teammate, 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 Business School degree, and the friends I’ve made in Bloomington in and outside of the basketball program will be forever treasured.”

Despite the significant playing time, Smith’s role was ever-evolving. He was forced to play in the frontcourt much of his first two seasons before splitting time between the frontcourt and the wing this past season. Having declared for the NBA Draft both last spring and again this year, Smith clearly had next-level aspirations and Friday’s decision is a sign that he believes his best chance to reach that point is somewhere else.

For Indiana, Smith’s departure leaves a significant gap in rebounding and defending, despite the fact that he was the Hoosiers’ third-leading scorer this past season.

Smith’s athleticism was unique on the IU roster and won’t be replaced by any one player. Race Thompson and Jerome Hunter figure to be the leading candidates to fill Smith’s vacancy, while it might also open the door for incoming freshmen Trey Galloway, Jordan Geronimo, Anthony Leal and Khristian Lander to make more contributions. For the former three, that would be on the wing, while Lander could slot into more three-guard sets with Rob Phinisee, Armaan Franklin and lone returning senior Al Durham, who is now the only remaining connection to Crean even though he has played for Miller his entire career.

42 comments

  1. Damn….Seemed like a great young man. So much for the slow gravy theories of building mature rosters led by senior classes.

    His activity and strength on the boards will be missed. I was a big fan of Smith…Never came across with a false sense of bravado or cockiness.
    I think he’ll have to step down the ladder a bit to see a lot of playing time somewhere else (meaning a smaller school). His offensive skill sets are still struggling to blossom and match his superb athleticism.

    He’s from Chicago….Maybe he’ll join Damezi and find a spot at Loyola?
    Hate to say this …but Bulter may also be a nice fit. Justin is a team player. Butler generally has stronger perimeter shooters than Indiana which could open things up for Justin inside. Butler also has great job placement for business students and benefits from proximity to Indy.

    Sorry to see you go, Justin. Best wishes.

    1. Congratulations Justin! Three good years and a degree from IU! I hope that you end up at NW. You will be the best player on the team, they have awesome graduate programs, it is close to home. NW can create a niche grabbing the best seniors from IU in basketball, Smith, and football, Ramsey . Good luck!

  2. I don’t blame him wanting a new environment. Wish him well. It does start to get confusing for a coach as the transfer option becomes easier, next year I believe. Between the NBA draft review and the portal, added difficulty for recruitment . Still believe we will have a strong team this ear. Caveat – I believe that every year.

  3. I think he saw more playing time going to Jerome Hunter. As much as I like Justin , all I ever heard from the TV Analysts from Fox Sports, CBS Sports or BTN..” great athleticism but unfilled potential” JH may not be the jumper that Justin is but JH can move all over the floor to shoot from many spots. It seemed at times that Justin “disappeared” within the offense. best of luck to Justin at his next stop.

    1. Tjt,

      I think you may be correct regarding the potential emergence of JH in the upcoming season. I also am wondering if a potential transfer into the vacant spot left by DA might have something to do with his decision.

  4. This is a significant blow to IU Men’s BB and an example of “subtraction by addition,” since Smith’s transfer was probably prompted in part by Lander’s early enrollment. IU’s roster will be weaker this season as a result of Smith’s transfer. Given the learning curve involved with Archie’s system, I’m skeptical that any of the incoming freshman will fill Smith’s shoes during their first year at IU.

    Watching Smith closely over the last two seasons, I just never got the opinion that he was ever happy. In fact, his facial expressions and body language while on the court or on the bench almost always expressed frustration or discontent. Maybe it was his goal of getting his degree for IU’s Kelley School of business that kept him in Bloomington? But it sounds as if Archie made no significant effort to talk Smith out of leaving the program.

    I guess the silver lining in this cloud is that another toxic Crean-recruited player is off the team. That’s one less Crean-recruit that IU BB purists will have to scapegoat. The opportunity to blame IU’s BB woes on Crean-recruited players is further diminished and we can all get back to celebrating real IU players, lead by a real basketball coach who knows how to play the right kind of basketball. No doubt IU will be back to winning Big Ten Championships and making trips to the final four within the next two or three seasons.

  5. Correction: I should have written that IU’s roster has been weakened because of Smith’s transfer. Sorry for writing it the wrong way. Overall, I think this season’s roster will be more talented than last season’s roster, but the loss of Smith significantly reduces the difference.

  6. So as the roster of scholarship players exists right now, Archie has 11 scholarship players, which consists of 2 Seniors, 2 Juniors, 3 sophomores, and 4 freshman. If it stays that way, it will be a very young team.

    Will Archie try to bring in a graduate transfer or a JC transfer? Are any good players left? He’s got two scholarships to offer for the upcoming season. Or will he save those two scholarships for the class of 2021? Assuming he saves them for the class of 2021, Archie will have at least four freshman in that class and potentially 8 underclassmen on the 2021/2022 roster. With these new kinder/gentler transfer rules, I’m not sure teams can achieve an age/experience balance with a roster full of four-star players anymore. It appears that Archie is going to struggle keeping the balance that some believe is essential to winning championships.

  7. I’m not worried about this loss. Jerome and Race will fill this role and we can get more guards on the floor at times.

  8. Lots of minutes. Capable of good D. Couldn’t create much offense off the dribble. Threw up quite a few bricks. Also offered frequent lapses at both ends of the court. I’m thinking addition by subtraction. More minutes for RT. Jerome Hunter, center stage please. Geronimo, you best stiffen your upper lip. 2 more rides now available for Coach Miller in 2020.

  9. I would be offering Mac McClung various incentives about right now….(wink wink)

    Archie, give Sean a call and get the lowdown on playing cards with a deck under the table (wink wink). What do you have to lose (wink wink)? If you don’t produce a deep tournament run in two years you’re out anyway. The NCAA is so in over the heads with Covid-19 and have you talked to Sean lately (wink wink)?
    Get McClung! Offer him a water bottle and a backpack (wink wink). Please tell me this is why you just gave Justin a gentle push (wink wink). TJD, Brunk, Race, Hunter, Phinisee, Durham, Lander, Franklin and MCCLUNG! I like that lineup. And that nice looking kid from Bloomington, too. What’s his name…? Opie Taylor? I hope there is somebody tall I’m forgetting…?

    Anyway…Unless we somehow land McClung, it’s going to be another long year.

    1. Don’t know H4H,

      I know you’re in love with double M but it appears we ain’t in his plans. Narrowed his schools down to 7 a couple days ago and we didn’t make the cut. Not saying we can’t still get into the running but don’t see it as likely. Not sure what we would do with yet another guard. Got so many now that it will be interesting as to how CAM doles out the minutes.

      Still think IUBB will rise and fall on whether or not JH can come back to full form. If he does, IUBB will ride as far as he can go. Might want to call him the MP of the basketball team.

    2. Wow some guy wrote Smith was a toxic Tom Crean recruit really?man you people have this weird thing about blaming Tom Crean for every perceived issue even though he hasnt coached here for 4 years and why are you guys so enamored with Mac Mclung yes he averaged 15 ppg but he’s a 39 percent shooter and a 32 percent from 3 thats pretty mediocre to me,IU needs shooters they were last in the big ten in 3 point makes at 5 a game shooting people say it with me!lol

    3. IU was never a school of interest for McClung. That possibility quickly closed awhile ago.

      1. BYU? Yuck. Mormon Tabernacle Choirboy, you are not, Mac.
        Texas Tech? Boring. Welcome to the football state. Basketball is still an afterthought in Texas. Beard is a good coach, but there’s no mystique. Bobby found that out.
        All of the rest on McClung’s list have even less appeal.

        The Midwest, Mac…The Midwest. No better fit than Indiana. Michigan could be a B+…but we are the ‘A’.
        We are where legends of hoops are born…and where they can even be erroneously made and blown out of proportion. (e.g. You can be a mediocre coach and simply say “It’s Indiana”…and suddenly the fans are on their knees treating you like a god. )
        But please consider us only if you are the real deal….We’ve had enough bogus and spineless pretenders take advantage of our stripes and lore. Some of us still know the difference. Do you know the difference, Mac?
        Do you know the difference between a da Vinci and a velvet Elvis painting? As soon as you walk onto McCracken, you’ll feel the difference. It’s been battered of late…It’s been disingenuous used and marketed for charlatans, but it still awaits an honest man with an honest heart and love for the game. You can come an make that difference.

        1. oops…

          It’s been disingenuously used and marketed for charlatans, but it still awaits an honest man with an honest heart and love for the game. You can come and make that difference.

  10. I agree about a player like McClung even though IU may not be on his radar. IU needs team workers that add and level of play doesn’t drop off regardless who is playing. It makes a team much harder to play against when a team can just keep coming after its opponent regardless who is playing. McClung would fit the bill or another that would offer this type strategy to IU if there is anyone out there. Though Smith sounds like the number one reason an athlete should go to school in the first place his transfer doesn’t hurt much if his attitude towards basketball at IU wasn’t right for the IU Hoosiers team. However, if he would had a team first attitude for IU and focused on college ball at IU Hoosiers it is a very significant loss because his production is taken out of the lineup. Plus IU as a team loses what Smith’s production improvement would be for the upcoming year. That’s a significant loss. Some IU fans tend to want to ignore the negative impact when it comes to recruits and transfers to and from IU for both, basketball and football. JH if he comes into his own this upcoming season will be of significance but he is not going to be the type of player that will carry the team. JH needs help so he can operate a little more freely to maximize his level of play. That makes Smith transfer more significant in a negative way for IU. Production and better play from other players makes JH a much better player because it loosens things up for him. Smith could have been an excellent component for this and it could have made Smith better as well. Maybe, the pro opportunity would have come right there at IU. So much for team play.

  11. It’s much easier to be right on where McClung won’t go…than where he may.

    His numbers aren’t stupendous….He had an injury. The kid has a 47″ vertical…For those keeping score, that’s four feet off the ground. I have a feeling some of you chest-thumpers are barely taller than his vertical.

    t- You understand the game of basketball. I’m not enamored with McClung because he can give us 20 points per night. I watched the kid play. He’s a superbly athletic version of a Scott Skiles. He’s great theater and he’s plays the game with a chip on the shoulder.

    Justin Smith: Not a typical Crean holdover. He’s a pretty big loss. Also a great leaper and a smart team player.

    Just so we’re very clear. I never said McClung was in our mix. Jeremy can vouch for how I was noticing McClung well over a year ago. I’ve put many posts on Scoop in 2019 suggesting how McClung reminded me of the sort of legendary kid who would come out of the Indiana h.s. basketball system in its glory days(before multi-class basketball) I was actually more into Georgetown because I loved how Ewing coached (though I think he’s now going to face more pressure) and played no favorites on his roster He went after recruits for heart as well as talent.

    I doubt if McClung will live up to the pressure he’s now putting on himself….He’s dragging out the process and taking advantage of the publicity (Patrick Mahomes now getting in on the act in trying to get McClung to Texas Tech).

    Here’s my opinion (for what it’s worth)…If McClung doesn’t have Indiana on his less publicized list, it’s a grave mistake. We have roster room and we have a need. He doesn’t play the game like a typical guard. He’s multi-purpose and he’s a havoc creator. The candy stripes have always had “it factor.” McClung would fall in love with Hoosier Basketball instantly. It’s a match made in heaven. His loss if he doesn’t understand that…His game and the mystique surrounding his Virginia h.s. playing days is just what the Indiana fans long for.
    He’s retro and he’s lightning in a bottle. He’s just what sport needs on any roster during depressed days and question marks regarding a ‘new normal’ in a confusing/high anxiety pandemic-ridden times.

    But there is no better fit than Indiana….We are still the honest to goodness real thing (this is not a Coke commercial) . We are whatever mystique is left in the game. We are the chills still left in the goosebumps when heroes come out of the tunnel. We are Hoosiers in a Hoosier state, baby…Gene Hackman…Milan, The Big O, Skiles, Bird, Bailey, Banners, Barns, Bobby, Blue Chips, Candy Stripes and BASKETBALL.

    Your loss, McClung….But maybe Archie is not interested, If so, then it’s also his loss for not understanding what makes the world go ’round when the axis is bringing back the mystique of basketball in Indiana.

    1. H4H,

      I know there are intangibles that McClung would bring that both you and I would find attractive. However, you may not have to look that far down the IUBB bench this fall to find what you seek. What little I have been been able to find out about Trey Galloway tells me he may fill our desire for a kid who plays with a chip on his shoulder. Best part is he is a home grown Indiana recruit. May take a year or two but this kid hopefully will turn out to be a more talented version of an old IUBB favorite, a “healthy” Zack McFloorburn.

  12. reading these posts reminds me of someone yelling SQUIRREL. I want to remind you all of a PREFERRED walk-on Sebastien Scott .. 70% FT and almost 50% FG percent as 6′ 2” SG / PG. The numbers remind me ( help me here my memory ISNT as good as once was) a kid that came up from Div 2 on Michigan or Wisconsin and burnt the hell out of defenses with his 3 pt shooting. I believe Scott is the son of a coach as well.

    1. Sebastian? Sounds like he belongs in a ’70s sitcom …or someone playing a friend of Hugh Grant in one of those cheesy British love story flicks consumed with many weddings and funerals.

      Maybe another Jonny Marlin? Speed demon. Come on, guys. We need some edge. No more frat rats and choirboys.

  13. A more athletic version of Scott Skiles? thats funny because Mac Mcclung averaged 2 assists a game thats great that he can jump out the gym he but also doesnt add much as far as shooting again 39 percent and 32 from 3 look it up

  14. Many top programs are pursuing him because he’s chopped liver.
    This kid is a baller.

    Personally, I’d rather follow him elsewhere and then feed his success to some of you lingering snidely Crean apologists and b-ball dimwits. I suppose you’re bigger fans of cue cards than actually finding guys who take their minutes on the court seriously…? Or do you prefer guys giggling and smirking on our bench when we’re getting our asses kicked in an NIT on McCracken?

    This young man is built for the college game….He’s not a project. He’s simply a winner and his competitive spirit will be infectious.

  15. Now see this is what i dont like about some of you people writing disrespectful **** just because a person doesn’t share your opinion because in the end thats all it is, i can be just as childish and petty but im above the nonsense because in the end its not that deep for me like it is for some of you

    1. I like McClung. Sue me. I don’t’ care for basketball coached with cue cards or guys giggling on our bench when getting their butts kicked in an NIT game. Sue me for that, as well.
      I never claimed McClung was a stat-stuffer or a prolific 3-point shooter (though he certainly scored in high school). Maybe I’m wrong…but here’s what I believe:
      McClung will play in a Final Four. It’s likely not going to be with Indiana, but he’ll be there.

  16. Sometimes rabbits do get pulled out of a hat. Things have changed since last Wednesday. Guys enter portals…Rosters are dynamic (including our own experiencing another recent transfer in Smith).

    There’s no law that McClung can’t adjust his wishes and thinking in this very dynamic time. Terrence Jones was never on Kentucky’s list….Hell, I wouldn’t count out Calipari or Crean in landing McClung. There are many strong ‘salesmen’ out there who may pull the rabbit out of the hat.

  17. H4H here’s a reminder of what the PREFERRED Walk-on Scott brings to IU and the team. Scott went from a 12 percent shooter on 3-pointers as a junior to better than 50 percent from behind-the-arc as a senior for the Wolves. He shot better than 50 percent on 2-point field goals as well.
    That transformation, coupled with shooting 82 percent from the free-throw line, allowed Scott to average more than 20 points per game and become a First-Team All-East Bay Athletic League selection, the first from San Ramon Valley in five years.
    The improvements in scoring came along with the defensive and hustle plays Scott’s coaches had come to expect from him, the types of moments they know will translate well to Indiana.
    “Archie’s going to love his defensive tenacity,” Fuca said. “I think the culture that Archie’s trying to build there fits right in with Sebastien.”

  18. Just for fun….along with not knowing scholarship room on any of the following teams (other than Indiana). My Top-5 predictions on Smith’s & McClung’s destinations:

    Smith:
    1. Butler
    2. Loyola
    3. Illinois
    4. UCLA
    5. Georgia

    McClung:
    1. Michigan
    2. Indiana
    3. Texas Tech
    4. Kentucky
    5. Butler

  19. There has to be more to Smith’s decision because in many ways it doesn’t make sense. Lander plays to Smith’s strengths. A super quick guard allowing Smith to get out on the wing for fast break dunks and put backs. I agree that Smith is a loss only because Smith can rebound. Fundamentally, he is not strong. Gets lost on defense, a poor ball handler, and as we saw with him and Green, bonehead plays galore. His athleticism makes him a real puzzle. Having said that, Hunter and Thompson have limitations but my hope is a Hunter shoots better this year. Perhaps Geronimo gets minutes and displays Smith-like athleticism on the wing.

    1. He very solid defensively and on the boards, which is why Archie played him so much. Never developed any kind of offensive game. He needs to select a graduate program, so that will be an interesting part of his choice. The McClung talk is funny, since he has no interest in IU. Hey, at least we can dream, right? Lol.

  20. Harvard for Hillbillies says:
    May 14, 2020 at 5:13 am

    If college basketball doesn’t happen this year, can we install huge screens on the outside walls of Skjodt Hall and create the first circular movie drive-in?
    There would be more than ample parking. Obviously, the first showing on opening night will be “Hoosiers”…..The late night show will be “Blue Chips.”
    Intermission will be a very short film which was miraculously found under a stack of cue cards in a Skjodt Hall storage room closet. It had been shelved for eight years. It’s a beautiful short docudrama of sorts called “Hoosier Rising”. You’ll love it. It will get you pumped for Blue Chips.

    Memorial Stadium might also get converted to a drive-in…? The first four weekends of films (sorry, no football games, but plenty of entertainment and kissing in cars ) will involve repeated showings of all the “Mission Impossible” movies. Maybe a lineup of horror (zombie films) and some slapstick heading into winter…? Final movie of the year would be ‘Groundhog Day.’

    We must get inventive.

    https://www.miamiherald.com/miami-com/things-to-do/article243003896.html

    Let’s just say….I have quite the following. Just remember, you heard it here first. lol.

  21. Not too bored..I can proudly say that I didn’t watch one smidgen of the Lance Armstrong ’30 for 30’….or one hole of Mickelson/Brady vs. Woods/Manning.’

    Wouldn’t it be great if ESPN went bankrupt? Wonder if any of their ‘Establishment’ execs are accepting paycuts yet?

    Idea #2 (#1 was stadiums converted to drive-ins) : Basketball robots. Could it be done? What’s the timetable for such an idea? Could they be coachable? I doubt they could dunk…

    Idea #3: The Hologram games. Something like the Disney ‘Haunted Mansion’ Ballroom but on a basketball court (though it’s my understanding the Haunted Mansion does their effects with mirrors and various light projection).

    Idea #4: Monkeys. We use them for clinical trials for various drugs. Why can’t we train them to play hoops? We could have a basketball game and a clinical trial at the same time. And, finally, Crean looks like a great coach while going ape-sh__ on the sideline!

    Idea #5: Air Jordan’s become high-tech air filtration systems instead of tennis shoes. All air conditioning and ventilation systems are protected by ‘Air Jordan’ ….Fans trust Jordan. Fans will demand the safety guaranteed in arenas protected by the ‘Air Jordan’ filtration and purification systems.

  22. Actually think #5 is a potential goldmine ….If Jordan jumps on a deal with 3M, I’m pretty sure I should get 25% of the profits. Air Jordan filtration headgear is another possibility….Lightweight headgear/fabric system outfitted with ‘Air Jordan’ replaceable filtration packs. Some packs are offered in a scented cigar smoke version….

  23. Yup . . . nailed it! H4H is officially bored.

    H4H’s done started jumping the shark on a regular basis. Where’s a TLC style antic out there for H4H when something is needed, anything to be able to respond to? We’ve got to have a provocative item of some sort to get H4H on a good rant roll! Gang, think of it as a mercy mission, H4H is starting to shrink into a shell of himself. HSN staff, you provided the forum to create this edifice known as H4H, you’ve got some responsibility for the feeding and care of our beloved Jester! Help us out here!

  24. Man, tough crowd. Filtration and purification provided by Air Jordan….I thought that was a winner. And no love for the Miami Dolphins adopting my drive-in idea?

    Here’s an idea…Check for the latest of any inside Scoop from BearDown? He’s never known a topic he doesn’t know. Or, discuss how much you all love world history….? Or compare teaching credentials….? You boys will “think” of something…

    1. I know H4H,

      It is a tough crowd out there and been worried about some of the gang MIA including BD, HC & others. If Po hadn’t showed up, would have been even more concerned. I know our esteemed group of sports writers have got to be banging their collective heads against the wall looking for new material. Our guys have done as good a job as possible, under current conditions, but some of the other outlets have been getting pretty desperate.

  25. And don’t forget…It’s just stupid…It’s just ignorant….It’s just completely uninformed to have fun with the idea of Mac McClung being a Hoosier. Only damn fools would entertain such a topic. And now that the list is out, shuddup already.

    Come on, thinkaboutit…You’d have to be a zombie to not recognize the snide and attack mode that’s been going on here. Do you know why? They blame me for Crean being ousted…..How ridiculous is that?

    1. Of course I am aware of it H4H,

      Why do you think I serve up the softballs periodically to you? I know when all is said and done, you are C&C through and through. Just because one might be critical of certain decision made by the illustrious IU Administration, doesn’t mean you don’t care about the institution.

  26. It’s all good, thinkaboutit.

    I appreciate you having my back and the fact you possess a sense of give and take. I would be far less motivated to spend time here without your presence; your take on Hoosier sports topics and your ability to have some fun along the way.

    I suggest Jeremy to bring back ‘Hall Pass’….Jeremy has a great sense of humor. Always remember the Hall Pass when Jeremy had a backdrop of the ocean and beach…I think he was in shorts and wearing a Hawaiian shirt. I believe it wasn’t in the HT budget to send 2 reporters to the Maui Classic …so Jeremy was left at home to hold down the fortress. He had fun with in that moment and with other Hall Pass presentations.
    I suppose nobody want a ‘Jester Journalist.’ Personally, I loved it.

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