Just when the storm seemed to settle, another Husky decided to jump ship.
UConn’s mass exodus continued – the tally is now at five – as sophomore forward Roscoe Smith has been granted his release from scholarship, a source confirmed to the Hearst Connecticut Media Group Saturday morning.
The news was first reported by CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman.
Smith’s impending exit deals another crippling blow to UConn’s depleted frontcourt, which has already lost Alex Oriakhi to transfer – he committed to Missouri Friday – and freshman Andre Drummond to the NBA Draft. Reserve big man Michael Bradley also filed for transfer, leaving Tyler Olander as the only post player with significant experience.
Smith, a starter in 33 of 41 games during UConn’s run to the 2011 national title, struggled to crack the rotation on a regular basis this past year. He averaged just 4.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. A natural small forward, Smith received most of his time as a high post player, where he thrived for a critical five-game stretch that helped UConn clinch its NCAA berth.
The 6-foot-8 sophomore scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds and drew one enormous charge – “the first charge we’ve taken in six months, I think,” UConn associate head coach George Blaney said half-jokingly – to lead UConn to a victory over Pitt in the regular-season finale.
”It’s a long season,” Smith said afterwards. “The one thing you’ve got to do is be patient. Being very religious, I continued to pray and be positive about everything. Villanova was the turning point for me. They gave me an opportunity. I took advantage of it.”
Despite his late emergence, Smith’s season went a lot like Oriakhi’s. In 21 consecutive games from late-November to late-February, Smith failed to log 20 minutes.
Also like Oriakhi, Smith, a top 50 player out of high school, figures to attract plenty of interest from competitive high-majors. The only difference: He’ll have to sit out a year.
NCAA rules allow Oriakhi to transfer without penalty because his eligibility (one year) is concurrent with the postseason ban in which UConn faces. Smith has two years remaining, so he won’t suit up for his new school until 2013-14.
In order for UConn to maintain a high APR – an issue that has, in part, contributed to the unraveling of the Huskies’ roster – Smith, Oriakhi, Bradley and Jeremy Lamb must leave the semester in good academic standing.
Without Smith, the Huskies have four scholarships to fill. They’re undoubtedly in the market for a big man, and 2012 prospects Chris Obekpa (6-foot-8) and Bradley Hayes (6-foot-11) remain uncommitted.