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Catamounts’ Smith returning for senior season, withdraws from NBA Draft

Stef Smith shined from behind the 3-point line in his junior year and will look to continue his offensive prowess as the Catamounts’ top offensive threat next season. (Photo: UVM Athletics)

BURLINGTON, Vt. (BVM) — The Catamounts men’s basketball team hopes the 2020-21 season looks a lot better with the recent news of their star guard’s return. After declaring for the NBA Draft in April, Stef Smith withdrew his name, and will be back to finish his senior season at the University of Vermont this winter the team announced on June 4. 

Smith was one of the Catamounts’ leading scorers, finishing his junior campaign as the team’s second-leading scorer with 14.2 points per game while playing in all 33 games. Smith led the America East shooting 42.3% behind the 3-point line and was named to the America East All-Conference First Team.

With the delay to the NBA season and offseason, along with a shortened college season, NBA hopefuls with remaining eligibility may have to look at the draft a little differently this year. The restrictions on travel and facility work have rendered draft prospects unable to workout and perform in-person meetings with NBA teams. 

The deadline for players to withdraw from the draft was pushed back from the original date of June 15 to Aug. 3. 

Smith joins many players who have already gathered information from the NBA and have gone on to withdraw from the draft like Georgetown/Texas Tech guard Mac McClung and Andrew Nembhard from Florida. Smith’s former teammate Anthony Lamb took the same route last year before returning for his senior season.

UVM finished atop the America East last season, with a record of 26-7 and a conference record of 14-2. The 26-win season for the Catamounts is now their 12th straight 20-win season.

In the team’s conference tournament, the Catamounts looked primed to win the America East championship after victories in their first two matchups of the tournament. UVM’s 2019-20 run would be stopped with the cancelation of their championship game, due to COVID-19, against Hartford and the hopes of a NCAA Tournament bid.

After losing Lamb, the team’s leading scorer, and guard Everett Duncan to graduation, Smith will look to be the feature player in the Catamounts’ offense. UVM will try to replace their production with returning contributors like Ryan Davis and Ben Shungu. 

The Catamounts were also busy in the transfer portal and will add some new faces to next year’s lineup. Along with Justin Mazzulla, who is eligible to play after transferring last year, UVM added Bernie Andre from Northern Arizona and Tomas Murphy from Northeastern.

The Catamounts hope this new bunch will be able to replicate the success of their previous season and help punch the program’s eighth ticket to the Big Dance.

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