2020-21 Season

In Michigan’s transition season, Mike Smith is ready to seize his opportunity

Mike Smith stands at the center of a unique crossroads in the history of Michigan basketball.

Before him, there was a golden lineage of point guards that defined a generation. You know the names, because they were the crux of the greatest prolonged era in program history. There was Trey Burke, the Naismith award winner, and Derrick Walton, the four-year star who guided Michigan back to glory. After them came Zavier Simpson, who emerged from nowhere to lead the Wolverines to the brink of a national title.

Ahead of him, there are the promises of the Juwan Howard era. They’ve yet to fully materialize, but the goal is clear: Go after the nation’s top recruits and get them, building a team flush with star power.

So here is Smith, a month away from leading Michigan into the 2020-21 season, but still answering questions about the four years he spent at Columbia before arriving in Ann Arbor as a graduate student this summer. They range from the difference in fan bases to adjusting to the Big Ten’s taller defenders, because all of it is new for a Michigan point guard.

“It’s just so different in the Big Ten,” Smith said Tuesday, recognizing his unique position.

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