The Wolverine

June-July 2020

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE JUNE/JULY 2020 2 0 2 0 B A S K E T B A L L R E C R U I T I N G I S S U E BY CHRIS BALAS J uwan Howard's first recruiting class was ranked No. 15 nation- ally, a collection of four prep standouts with different skills. The haul was made even better when the Michigan head coach added one of the most sought-after graduate trans- fers in the country in 5-11 Mike Smith. He will fill a need at point guard, and he can't wait to get started. Smith, who ranked sixth nation- ally with 22.8 points per game for Columbia last year, chose U-M over Gonzaga, Arizona and others, and for many reasons. Education was big for him, obviously — Columbia is in the Ivy League — and, as he noted, Michigan "is a top-tier school." "You can't go wrong with that," he added. His family and friends — and par- ticularly his father, who made it to every one of his games last year — will have an easier time making the 3.5-hour drive from his hometown of Chicago to Ann Arbor, and he now gets to play in the Big Ten. Smith was very familiar with How- ard, a Chicago legend, and he is also befriended NBA standout Jimmy But- ler, who had ties to Howard in Miami. When it came to honesty, he said, Howard was above and beyond. The Michigan head coach was set on tak- ing either Smith or Harvard transfer Bryce Aiken — rather than pit them against each other, he kept it real. "He said Bryce and I were the two guards he was looking at, and I was good friends with Bryce," Smith recalled. "I knew he told Bryce the same thing, so I knew he was a man of his word. When he said some- thing, he actually meant it. IMMEDIATE HELP Columbia Graduate Transfer Mike Smith Is Ready To Make An Impact In The Big Ten Smith, who averaged 22.8 points per game for Columbia in 2019-20, selected U-M over Gonzaga, Arizona and others. PHOTO BY MIKE MCLAUGHLIN/COLUMBIA ATHLETICS

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