Michigan Wolverines basketball's Mike Smith will not return to Ann Arbor next season. - Rivals.com - Michigan

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Michigan Wolverines basketball fifth-year senior point guard Mike Smith will not return to the team next year, he announced today on his Instagram page. The news does not come as a surprise to subscribers of TheWolverine, with Chris Balas having reported Smith's return was unlikely in a recent INSIDE THE FORT update.

The NCAA declared that all seniors and fifth-year seniors could come back once again in 2021-22 if they chose to do so, which is why Smith at least had the possibility of making a return.

Michigan Wolverines basketball's Mike Smith

Michigan Wolverines basketball's Mike Smith hails from Burr Ridge, Ill. (AP Images)

In his lone season in Ann Arbor after transferring in from Columbia, Smith averaged 9.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists while playing 30.4 minutes per game. He also connected on 79.3 percent of his free throw attempts and a stellar 41.8 percent of his three-pointers.

In his goodbye letter on Instagram, the 5-11 guard noted he plans on following his "dreams of playing in the NBA," and that "the next stop" will be the NBA Draft.

Zavier Simpson had served as the Maize and Blue's point guard each of the three seasons from 2018-20, and Smith stepped in to the starting role seamlessly from day one this year following Simpson's graduation.

That sentiment was perhaps best exemplified by the fact Smith led the Big Ten in assists (5.4 per game) throughout the regular season. Illinois junior Ayo Dosonmu (5.3) and Minnesota redshirt junior Marcus Carr (4.9) were the only other two players in the league who averaged more than 4.5 dimes per contest.

One of the highlights of Smith's 2020-21 season came in the 79-66 Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal win over Maryland, when he scored 18 points and handed out a Big Ten Tournament-record 15 assists.

Head coach Juwan Howard will once again have to find a new point guard heading into next year in the wake of Smith's departure. The Wolverines are bringing in a four-star floor general in Frankie Collins, with current freshman guard Zeb Jackson also set to return next season (though he is viewed by many as more of a two-guard).

The possibility of current senior guard Eli Brooks returning for another year also remains a strong possibility.

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