Gophers’ Malik Smith eligible to play immediately

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota men’s basketball team received good news Wednesday as senior Malik Smith’s transfer waiver was approved by the NCAA. That means the former Florida International guard will be eligible to play for Minnesota in the 2013-14 season.
Smith spent his junior year at FIU under coach Richard Pitino, who was hired earlier this year to coach Minnesota after only one year at the helm at Minnesota. In 31 starts for the Golden Panthers last year, Smith scored 14.1 points and grabbed 2.7 rebounds per game. 
Smith was eligible to play immediately because FIU received a ban for low Academic Progress Rate numbers. The 6-foot-2 Smith originally signed to play with the Gophers in late May after Pitino was hired. He now brings experience to a Minnesota roster that is otherwise unfamiliar with Pitino’s coaching style.
“He’s the only one who knows how to play for me,” Pitino said Wednesday. “He had a year with me — a year and a half, really — when we kind of did the same thing. He knows the plays. He’s comfortable.”
The Gophers are still awaiting word on another transfer, Joey King, who comes to Minnesota after transferring from Drake. King moved back closer to home because of family issues and is also hoping to receive a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately.

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