Smart arrived in College Park as a three-star recruit who committed to the Terps during his senior year of high school. Even though Maryland didn’t have a true point guard last season, Coach Mark Turgeon opted to have Eric Ayala and Hakim Hart handle that position. As the 2020-21 season progressed, Turgeon shortened his rotation, leaning on senior guard Reese Mona when Maryland needed an eighth man, rather than calling upon a less experienced player such as Smart.
Sophomore center Chol Marial already announced his decision to transfer from Maryland. Marial hardly played during two seasons with the Terps. He arrived on campus needing surgery to repair stress fractures in both legs, and after he recovered, he couldn’t crack the rotation.
Two transfers recently committed to join Maryland’s program next season. Georgetown center Qudus Wahab and Rhode Island point guard Fatts Russell both fill key voids and could start immediately. The addition of Russell gave Smart little chance to develop and step into a larger role as a sophomore.
Smart’s departure leaves Turgeon with an open scholarship spot that he could fill with another transfer. Maryland will also add two freshman, power forward Julian Reese and shooting guard Ike Cornish, who are both four-star recruits from Baltimore.
With a handful of key returners — including Ayala, Hart, forward Donta Scott and possibly guard Aaron Wiggins, if he doesn’t leave for the NBA draft — along with Turgeon’s recent success in the transfer portal, Maryland is considered a top-15 team in many early preseason rankings.
Turgeon signed a contract extension this week, which gives the program perceived stability and should help attract players. Turgeon’s new deal is filled with incentives — through pay, buyout increases and automatic extensions — that make it clear how much the school is prioritizing Turgeon’s ability to reach at least the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, something Maryland has accomplished once in his 10 seasons, or win another conference title.