CHICAGO -- Evan Smotrycz is back in the Big Ten.
After leaving Michigan in the spring of 2012 following two successful seasons in Ann Arbor, Smotrycz transferred to Maryland, the Terrapins of course now set to officially begin competition in the conference during this quickly approaching 2014-15 college basketball season.
“It was pretty random considering Maryland is such a historical ACC program,” Smotrycz said Thursday at Big Ten media day about the move to the Big Ten. “But like I said, I feel like Maryland can fit in anywhere and we’ll take our history to the Big Ten and I think we’ll fit in nicely.”
One of the highest rated recruits Michigan coach John Beilein had landed up until that point during his time with the Wolverines, Evan Smotrycz arrived in Ann Arbor as the four-star shooting threat fully capable of stretching the floor at the four spot.
In his freshman season in 2010-11, Smotrycz started 24 games averaging 6.3 points per contest, shooting 38-percent from three-point range.
His sophomore year in 2011-12, Smotrycz started just 18 games averaging 7.7 points to go with 5.9 rebounds, all the while improving his three-point percentage to nearly 44-percent.
“A lot went into that decision,” Smotrycz said. “That’s not just something you make on a whim so, like I said I love it in Maryland and I fit in nicely with what we’re doing now and love it at College Park.
“I have no animosity towards Ann Arbor, it’s a great college town and like I said we’re looking forward to creating new rivalries and put our own stamp on the league.”
“I wasn’t leaving the Big Ten, I wasn’t like ‘oh, I’ve got to get out of the Big Ten to get to the ACC,’” Smotrycz added.
“It doesn’t matter to me what conference we’re playing in. I’m just happy to be in Maryland and I think we’ll do some things that’ll fit in with the Big Ten and be able to kind of put our own stamp on the league.”
While at Big Ten media day Smotrycz did have the opportunity to briefly interact with his former coach John Beilein.
“He had places to be so we just exchanged pleasantries,” Smotrycz said. “But yeah, good to see him and Tom Wywrot, the communications guy, miss him but glad to see they’re doing well.”
In the season following Smotrycz departure, Michigan made a run all the way to the 2013 national championship game.
The following year, Michigan captured a Big Ten regular season championship, a season that would’ve been Smotrycz last go round.
Regardless, there’s no hard feelings toward the Wolverines as far as Smotrycz is concerned.
“A lot of people thought I would be mad or whatever but those are my friends and I was happy for what they did and the success they had,” Smotrycz said. “At the same time I’ve gotten better and I’ve stayed in contact with some of the guys.
“The guys on the team now, they’re all pretty much gone except for Max Bielfeldt and I haven’t stayed in contact with him. But as I said, happy for the guys and I’ve stayed in contact with a bunch of them.”
Smotrycz won’t make a return trip to Crisler Center during the 2014-15 season, Michigan instead heading to Maryland on Feb. 28.
Having played against every team in the Big Ten in his past, he says he could add a slight advantage in preparation for the various offenses the Terrapins will face in the conference, but not much.
“I’m sure I’ll have a little bit of a hand in scouting for the games,” Smotrycz said. “But like I said, I don’t know too much about the teams now.”
At the end of the day, Smotrycz is very comfortable with his decision and his role in Maryland’s program.
“I’ve had plenty of time to adapt and I love it in Maryland,” Smotrycz said. “I love what we’re doing with the program and the way coach is running things now.
“I think it really plays to our strengths and we’ll really be able to exploit some teams on the offensive end and right now we’re working on kind of establishing a defensive identity cause we weren’t very good defensively last year so, that’s been kind of our main emphasis.”
Smotrycz received some unfortunate news over the weekend though, he’ll be out 4-6 weeks with a fracture in his foot.
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