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.
More on Mike Smith:
- Replacing Zavier Simpson and the search for shot creation
- Rewatch: Lessons learned from Mike Smith vs. Chaundee Brown
- At Michigan, Mike Smith has one year to prove himself. Again.