CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Growing up outside Boston, Maryland forward Evan Smotrycz was – and is – more of a pro sports fan than college fan.
But his affection for the Terps started long before he transferred from Michigan before last season.
It started early, when Smotrycz played a college basketball video game that featured Steve Francis on the cover. He always chose Maryland, because of Francis.
Francis dominated the video games Smotrycz played more than he did during his one year in College Park.
“However many points my team scored is probably how many Steve Francis scored,” Smotrycz said with a laugh Wednesday at the ACC's media day. “I tried to score with him every time.”
I suggested – kiddingly – that the Michigan transfer’s game is exactly like the game Francis played at Maryland and during the first half of his 10-year NBA career. Smotrycz, a 6-foot-8 forward known more for his outside shooting than his acrobatic dunks, laughed again.
“I wouldn’t mind if it was,” Smotrycz said. “I’d take that any day.”
Smotrycz wore No. 23 for as long as could remember – probably because of Michal Jordan, not Francis – but changed to No. 1 when he got to Maryland.
“I honestly have no idea why, I thought I was switching places so I’d get a new number,” Smotrycz said.
One of the more prominent players to wear that number for the Terps was Byron Mouton, who as a transfer from Tulane wore No. 1 and helped Maryland reach two straight Final Fours.
Mouton played a key role in the team's NCAA championship game win over Indiana in 2002.
“I talked to him a lot when I got here,” Smotrycz said of Mouton. “He told me not to waste the year, take advantage of all the time I had to work on my game and improve it. I wouldn’t mind winning a national championship too.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun