Even before the surprise transfer of David Dejulius, Juwan Howard needed to add a guard to the lineup heading into the 2020-21 season. A very talented roster in need of a more veteran leadership at the position, Howard dipped into the transfer pool and pulled out the high-scoring Ivy League standout, Columbia grad transfer PG Mike Smith.
- 2019-20 Stats
- Second team All-Ivy League
- Averaged Conference-best 22.8 points per game (6th best in the nation)
- 34% from three on 177 attempts
- Averaged 4.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 turnovers per game
A little shorter and less stout than Zavier Simpson, Smith is quite opposite of a player as the former starting point guard. Simpson made his pay on the defensive end of the court while dishing the rock at a high tick but inconsistently chipping in on the scoreboard.
While Smith, on the other hand, can put points on the board and has showed it’s not just against Ivy League competition. He scored in double digits every contest of the 2019-20 season, scoring 20+ in 23 games, 30+ in 5 games, and never scoring less than 14 points in a game (Simpson’s season average was 12.9 ppg). Rebounding at nearly the same tick as Simpson, as more of a scoring threat, naturally Smith’s assists per game are lower than the departing senior.
Oh, the free throw percentage is a big improvement too (2019-20):
- Simpson: 57.4%
- Smith: 81.3%
The thing that Michigan will likely miss most in the transition from Simpson to Smith will be on defense. Zavier was a pitbull on that end of the court and there are questions around Smith’s ability to defend at the position, especially against Big Ten guards.
Sometimes you have to trade a standout on one end of the court for a standout on the other. Michigan needed a point producer at the point guard position with Dejulius moving on. Smith is that guy and should be able to step in early and contribute immediately as a starter or one of the first guys off the bench.
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 180lbs
- Hometown (School): Burr Ridge, IL (Columbia; Fenwick HS)
- Career Stats: 17.9 PPG, 4.3 APG, 2.9 RPG, 2.3 TO/G, 82.8 FT%
Scholarships were once a worry for this roster but with Dejulius and C Colin Castelton transferring and 2020 commit F Jace Howard deciding to walk-on his freshmen year, Howard had two scholarships available. One is now taken by Smith and all eyes now turn to super recruit 2020 five-star SG Josh Christopher who is expected to announce his decision in the coming days.
Photo Credit: Mike McLaughlin/NYPost