UCLA men’s basketball guard Chris Smith announces exit from program
UCLA men’s basketball guard Chris Smith will not be returning to the program in the fall, according to an announcement on Instagram on Monday night. Smith played four years with the Bruins but only played in eight games his senior year after tearing his left ACL. (Jason Zhu/Daily Bruin staff)
By Jon Christon
July 5, 2021 6:29 p.m.
This post was updated July 5 at 10:26 p.m.
The Bruins are losing their only senior from last season.
UCLA men’s basketball guard Chris Smith announced he is moving on from the program in an Instagram post Monday night. The announcement comes after multiple reports said Smith was unlikely to return to Westwood even with an extra year of eligibility granted to all student-athletes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smith missed the majority of the 2020-2021 season after a tear in his left ACL limited his senior year to only eight games.
“Even though my last year did not go the way we all wanted, I feel as if it was the best,” Smith said in his Instagram post. “Although I wanted to be out there fighting with my brothers every night, I loved nothing more than watching everyone grow as players, coaches, men, and together as a family. … I gave my all every single day I wore blue and gold. Every second was worth it. I will always love you UCLA, and thanks to you I proudly say I am a Bruin for life!”
After averaging less than 10 points per game in his freshman and sophomore years under former coach Steve Alford, Smith broke out in his junior year with coach Mick Cronin, leading the Bruins in scoring with 13.1 points per game. The guard won the Pac-12 Most Improved Player and earned a spot on the All-Pac-12 First Team.
“I totally support Chris Smith, and we all thank him for his fantastic attitude and all his contributions to UCLA men’s basketball,” Cronin said in a statement. “I’d like to publicly thank him for his support and belief in myself and our coaching staff when we took over two years ago. Chris will make it as a professional as he gets healthy, no doubt. He gave us four years and many great games, we all wish him much success going forward.”
Smith was a projected NBA Draft pick a year ago but elected to return to school after testing the draft waters. This time around, Smith is unlikely to be drafted, as he ranks 97th in Sam Vecenie’s 2021 NBA Draft Big Board and has been unable to compete in the NBA Draft Combine because of his injury.
While the Chicago native was the only senior on last year’s team, UCLA could still lose rising junior guard Johnny Juzang and rising redshirt senior forward Cody Riley, both of whom have until Wednesday to pull their names from the draft process and retain eligibility.