Reitz graduate and college sophomore Dru Smith will not return to the University of Evansville next year.
A source told Sports Director JoJo Gentry Wednesday that Smith told UE Head Coach Walter McCarty that he will not return to play basketball for the Aces next season.
UE Athletic Director Mark Spencer told Gentry during an interview Thursday that he does not like the idea of Smith transferring, but understands why he is leaving the Aces. A source told 44News former head coach Marty Simmons, who was fired in March, is like a father to Smith.
“Dru was very close with the previous staff. I understand the reasons for him to look around,” Spencer told Gentry Thursday. “I disagree with him saying he has a better chance somewhere else. But, I wish him all the luck. Since he’s had success…wherever he goes, they’ll be lucky to have him.”
According to sources, Smith has received “several” Division I offers. One source tells Gentry Nebraska, Virginia Tech, and Missouri are “in the mix” for Smith. Transferring to another DI program means he would have to red-shirt one year before he could compete. After red-shirting one season, Smith would have two more years of eligibility.
While battling a foot injury throughout his sophomore season, Smith averaged 13.7 points per game. He was the team’s second highest scorer behind Missouri Valley Conference leader Ryan Taylor. Smith was also our 44News Athlete of the Month for December 2017. As a freshman, Smith was a member of the 2017 MVC All-Freshman team. He averaged 5.3 points and 2.6 rebounds over 28 games. Smith also made eight starts. As a senior at Reitz, Smith averaged 20.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He is also a member of the 2014-2015 4A state runner-up team.
Seven players originally requested to explore other options after Marty Simmons was fired in March. However, some like K.J. Riley and John Hall, tell Gentry they have decided to stay at UE. With the exception of Smith, a source told Gentry Wednesday all players currently listed on UE’s roster, including Ryan Taylor, are participating in workouts. Taylor has received nearly 30 DI offers, according to another source. Taylor would be a graduate transfer if he left UE. Graduate transfers are eligible to compete immediately upon transferring.
A source told Gentry Wednesday that McCarty’s coaching staff will be announced in the coming days. The source would not disclose names, but indicated that the staff is nearly complete. Carson Harris, who is listed as an interim assistant coach on the school athletics website, will not be on McCarty’s staff, according to a source. Harris is remaining on the staff temporarily to manage administrative tasks.