New Gophers coach Richard Pitino has gotten three commitments in just more than a month's time.
Hours after news of Joe Coleman asking for his release late Tuesday evening, one of Pitino's former players at Florida International decided to jump on board.
Around 9:00 on Wednesday morning, guard Malik Smith tweeted the news, which he had been alluding to for days.
Smith will be eligible to play next season, a team source confirmed.
The guard played for Pitino last year at FIU, averaging 14.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 33.1 minutes a game. The 6-2, 170-pound junior, who has one year of eligibility left, is from Boston originally.
Smith represents Pitino's third commitment -- all guards -- since the new Minnesota coach took over. Pitino has had de-commitments from the two recruits already on board from Tubby Smith's class -- Alvin Ellis (now at Michigan State) and Alex Foster (who reportedly was told the team was going in a different direction). If Coleman indeed transfers -- official word could come today -- the Gophers will still have two scholarships remaining.
Smith would likely be available immediately by way of the NCAA waiver that allows student-athletes to transfer if their current institution is banned from postseason play. It looks as if FIU, due to dismal academic scores (recorded mostly under the tenure of former coach Isiah Thomas) will lose those privileges.
Here is the full exception, taken straight from the NCAA bylaws:
On the recommendation of the Committee on Athletics Certification for a student-athlete who transfers to
a member institution to continue the student-athlete’s opportunity for full participation in a sport because
the student-athlete’s original institution, per Bylaw 22.3.3, is placed in a membership category that would
preclude the institution’s team in that sport from participating in postseason competition during all of the
remaining seasons of the student-athlete’s eligibility.
(Adopted: 1/16/93 effective 1/1/94)