The Minnesota Golden Gophers and first year head coach Richard Pitino received a nice boost on Wednesday evening as news trickled in that Florida International transfer, Malik Smith, had been cleared to play immediately.
The school announced the decision, stating that the NCAA had cleared Smith’s transfer waiver request. This certainly doesn’t come as much of a shock, simply because of the impending penalties that were handed down to FIU this past spring. For issues under former head coach Isaiah Thomas, whom Pitino took over for at FIU prior to moving to Minnesota this past off-season, the Panthers cannot qualify for the postseason in 2014 because of low APR scores.
With Smith’s clearance, the Golden Gophers are getting a nice, back court addition to their squad for the 2013-14 season. Pitino is more than familiar with Smith having coached him in the past, so this is a match made in heaven and a quick advantage for the young, on-the-rise coach. Smith will be a senior and he brings a nice scoring sense to the perimeter after averaging 14.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this past season at FIU. Smith drained 96 three pointers collectively on the season.
Smith has bounced around throughout his collegiate career, starting things at South Plains College before moving to Jacksonville College as a sophomore. He spent this past season at FIU and will now contribute in the back court for Minnesota as a senior. The well traveled Boston, Massachusetts native will get one more shot at success — this time in the Big Ten Conference.
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