One of the GW baseball team’s most promising stars is no longer a Colonial. Sophomore Anthony Smith, one of the team’s best hitters last season, will transfer to St. John’s University.
Smith’s move is the first sign of fallout from former head coach Tom Walter’s decision to take the job at University of New Orleans in June.
“The whole reason I came to GW was for the coaches, it just so happened all four of them left in the same year,” Smith said. “Coach Walter and his staff had built up a good program. I can’t take the risk of waiting around to see where the new coaching staff is going.”
Last season, Smith was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, leading the conference in RBIs (69) and finishing tied for second in home runs (15) and slugging percentage (.701). He was also effective on the mound, striking out 63 batters in 15 starts while compiling a 6-3 record.
“Anytime you change coaches you can expect this,” GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said. “He was a very good player (and) he will be tough to replace but this is not an unusual situation.”
New head coach Steve Mrowka said there was little he could do to influence Smith’s decision.
“By the time I had called him he had already made up his mind that he wasn’t going to be coming back,” he said. “I didn’t really have the chance to speak with him about staying because he made his decision. If he doesn’t want to be here, fine, we wish him the best of luck and I believe we have the caliber of players to make up for his loss.”
Smith is not the only player that considered transferring.
“When your head coach and assistants leave it can be tough,” junior pitcher Josh Wilkie said. “It makes you want to look around.”
He said expressed interest in transferring to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington but ultimately decided to stay at GW.
Wilkie said several teammates, including sophomore pitcher Derrik Lutz, are entertaining offers from other schools. But Kvancz said he believes Smith will be the only player transferring.
Infielder Ryan Roberson, who was not selected in June’s Major League Baseball draft, said he is currently looking to sign with a team as a free agent.