First things first: I'm not entirely sure that Evan Smotrycz's decision to leave Michigan was a great idea, at least not how Smotrycz has framed it. The former Wolverines forward left saying he wanted to find a "better fit" for his abilities, but as a 6-foot-9 forward whose best quality is his shooting -- he shot 43.5 percent from 3 this season, and 38.1 percent in 2011 -- why isn't John Beilein's system a good fit? It feels like the best fit, doesn't it? Am I off-base here?
Thing is, it doesn't matter if I am off-base, because I am not Evan Smotrycz, and thus have no bearing on his college basketball career or his desire to continue it somewhere other than Ann Arbor, Mich. Which is indeed what Smotrycz is going to do, per Wolverine Nation writer Mike Rothstein's account this morning. Smotrycz is transferring to Maryland, where he will sit out the customary transfer year and be eligible to play beginning in the fall of 2013. He'll have two years of eligibility remaining. And he's already looking forward to the picks and pops:
"I just felt really comfortable with the coaches and the guys on the team," Smotrycz said. "Maryland is such a big time program that it would have been tough to beat. I didn't feel like I needed to go anywhere else." [...] "Where I fit in was kind of a four man who can pick-and-pop and come off screens and make plays and obviously shoot it," Smotrycz said. "I like the way coach (Mark) Turgeon ran his offense. He showed me a lot of film of where he thought I'd fit in and I thought it was what I was looking for."
Which all sounds about right, and which is why it's fair to expect some serious improvement from the Terrapins in the years to come. The coming season should be promising enough, what with guard Terrell Stoglin and Alex Len returning alongside a good recruiting class (featuring top-100 talents like Shaquille Cleare and Jake Layman). If that team develops as expected and Stoglin sticks around for his senior season in 2013-14 and Turgeon keeps adding recruits (which seems like a fair expectation) the addition of Smotrycz could round out a really nice starting five. Forwards who stand 6-foot-9 and shoot like Smotrycz don't come along all that often, and they are perfect complementary pieces on teams like the one Turgeon is currently attempting to build.
Would Smotrycz have been better off sticking at Michigan and performing in a similar role there? Arguably, yeah. At the very least, he wouldn't have had to miss a season waiting to become eligible while transferring. But Maryland gains an excellent building-block piece, one that will be more ready for the bright lights in a re-emerging program than nearly any recruit Turgeon could land in the coming seasons. In other words, I'd want Smotrycz on my team. The Terps agree, and that's a decidedly positive sign for the future.