Earlier this week, the Butler Bulldogs landed former Valparaiso University center Derrik Smits as a grad transfer:
At 7’1, 235 pounds, Smits should provide much needed size and experience to the Bulldogs frontcourt, having appeared in 97 career games (59 starts) for the Crusaders.
Last season, Smits averaged 12.2 ppg (.594 FG%), 5.7 rpg, 1.0 bpg in 32 games (25 starts) for Valparaiso.
Smits also took visits to Arizona State and North Carolina State before ultimately deciding to take his talents to Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Of course, Smits is no stranger to Indianapolis either, as he played his high school basketball at Zionsville and was even previously recruited by then legendary Butler head coach Brad Stevens.
His famous NBA father, Rik Smits, formerly of the Indiana Pacers, was also blessed with sheer size at 7’4″, 250 pounds, and a high degree of basketball skill as well–making the NBA All-Star team in 1998 and becoming one of the best centers in professional basketball during the 1990’s.
The elder Smits helped the Indiana Pacers make the 2000 NBA Finals and was nicknamed ‘The Dunking Dutchman’, as he was heralded from the Netherlands as the 2nd overall pick of the 1988 NBA Draft.
While Derrik Smits isn’t quite as big or skilled as his father at this stage of his playing career, it’s hard not to seem some of the similarities as far as superior footwork, polished passing out of the low post, and overall sound fundamentals for a big man.
Having lost would-be junior center Joey Brunk as a transfer to Indiana University, Butler was in desperate need of a proven big man.
Their frontcourt depth at center was otherwise 6’9″, 250 pound sophomore Bryce Golden–who averaged 1.7 ppg. (.522 FG%), 0.7 rpg in 5.9 mpg, as well as potentially 6’7″, 225 pound big man Bryce Nze–having sat out last season as a transfer from Milwaukee.
As it stands, there’s a very good chance Smits starts for next season’s Bulldogs, and it also allows them the luxury to potentially redshirt incoming Carmel freshman big man John-Michael Mulloy.
Butler does not need Smits to be a basketball savior, but simply providing solid starting production in their frontcourt would be a big boost to their chances of improving next season.