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MBB 2020-21 Player Previews: Justin Smith

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Purdue Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

When you watch Justin Smith play basketball, one thing is noticeable right off the bat: the dude can flat out jump. The talented graduate transfer from Indiana looks to be a focal point in Eric Musselman’s system this upcoming season.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

#0 Justin Smith – Gr.Sr. 6-7 230

In Bloomington, Indiana, one of the most historic basketball sites in the world, Justin Smith may very well be a topic of major controversy. In fact, Tom Brew of Sports Illustrated maintained that Smith “quit on his teammates”. Did he or didn’t he? That may be an argument for another day, because this is strictly a player preview in an Arkansas Razorbacks Basketball context.

Justin Smith came to Indiana as a four-star recruit and the 78th best player in the country, according to 247Sports. Smith may not provide terrific scoring outputs night after night, as he only averaged only 26% from deep over his career, but he may already be the Hogs’ best defensive player. He led the Hoosiers with 31 steals in the 2019-20 season and was their second-best rebounder after freshman phenom Trayce Jackson-Davis.

As previously mentioned, Smith’s vertical is almost absurd. He holds the NBA Combine record for a max-vertical jump of 44 inches. To put this into further perspective, in the pre-combine era, Michael Jordan recorded a 46-inch max vertical during testing prior to 1984 NBA Draft.

Smith will remind Razorback fans of Michael Qualls and maybe even Daniel Gafford due to his explosiveness. However it must be said that he is clearly more explosive than both.

32 games as a starter last year:

10.4 points on 49.2% shooting with 26.3% from 3.

5.1 Rebounds per game

1.0 Steals per game

So where does Smith fit into Eric Musselman’s squad? He most likely won’t be a star-caliber player, but his defensive prowess and pure athleticism almost forces Musselman to give him quality minutes. Although his lack of offense is a concern, rumors are swirling that he has dramatically improved his scoring while in Fayetteville. If he can put all the pieces to his game together come November, he will cause even more fans to jump out of their seats in anticipation of what he might do next.

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