Justin Smith could fit mold for Louisville basketball.
Louisville basketball still has a scholarship spot to fill in 2020-21, and the graduate transfer market seems like the best spot for the Cardinals to look.
Given the uncertain future ahead for the Louisville basketball program and the youthful nature of the current Cardinals roster, one could assume that Chris Mack and company are going to either sit on their last roster spot or wait to find a transfer that fits what the Cardinals are looking for.
Louisville lost the bulk of its production at forward from last season in Jordan Nwora and Dwayne Sutton. So what if the Cards could pick up a suitable replacement for Sutton?
Meet Justin Smith, the newest power five player to put his name in the transfer portal after three years playing for Archie Miller at Indiana.
“Justin Smith and I had a conversation recently where we discussed his future and the feedback from the NBA,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said in a statement, via Inside The Hall. “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 started 73 out of the 98 games he played at Indiana, including every game in 2019-20, where he led the team in minutes played and was second in scoring.
How Smith would fit with Louisville basketball
So, Smith is transferring as a graduate student with one year of eligibility. But what makes him a better option for Louisville basketball than the hundreds of other players in the transfer portal?
To start, Smith would be a decent replacement for Louisville graduate Dwayne Sutton, who played a similar role to Smith at Indiana the last couple of seasons.
At 6’7,” 230 pounds, Smith brings a similar size and build as Sutton (6’5,” 220) and a similar stat line. Smith averaged 10.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and an assist per game compared to Sutton’s 9.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.
Like Sutton, Smith is a defensive-minded player. And though he isn’t a real threat from beyond the arc (25 percent for his career), he is consistent in the mid-range and relied upon as a back-to-basket scorer.
Smith brings a little bit more versatility to the defensive end and a bit more of an aggressive mindset on offense, which would bode well for the Cards in 2020-21.
Additionally, he could add depth at the three and four spots where Louisville has talent but is still extremely youthful with sophomores Samuell Williamson and Quinn Slazinski along with redshirt freshman Jae’Lyn Withers.
Lastly, Smith could be the power forward/ emergency back-up center combo that the Cards have been in search of. If either center Malik Williams or Aidan Igiehon, who both were sidelined with injuries in 2019-20, cannot go, the Cardinals have no depth behind them besides Slazinski- Who played some emergy five late in the year last season.
Smith could hold down the fort for 5-10 minutes a game down low, especially on the defensive end where he made a reputation as a mainstay on the Hoosiers roster last season.
If you’re a Louisville basketball fan, Justin Smith could be a name to look out for over this offseason.