We all know he can shoot. Soon, we'll find out if Brett Melton can recruit.
The Mahomet-Seymour star, who's given Illinois its lone oral commitment of 1999, will try to help his future coaches land a second this weekend when he and Florida 7-footer Nick Smith make their official campus visits.
Melton knows Smith well from the summer basketball circuit and plans to put on the hard sell while they're touring campus together.
"My first mission was Darius (Miles), but that didn't work too well," Melton said. "I hope we can get Nick to come to Illinois."
So do Lon Kruger & Co., whose summerlong search for a center is down to one after South Dakota big man Jared Reiner crossed Illinois off his list. Reiner, who had planned to visit Champaign the weekend of Oct. 23, backed out recently, knowing the scholarship Illinois coaches were offering was first-come, first-serve. If Smith snatched it up the weekend before, there'd be no room for Reiner.
So Reiner will visit Utah that weekend instead. He also plans to check out Connecticut and Kansas this month but appears to be leaning heavily to Iowa, paying Hawkeyes coach Steve Alford two visits in the last few weeks.
"That's pretty obvious," said his mom, Joanne. "I told him before he went there last weekend, 'If you go again, do you know what that's telling people?' He said, 'Yeah, but I've never told anybody that.' And he hasn't. If anybody calls now and asks, he says, 'I have no leader. It's one of those four.'
"But with that extra visit, yeah, I'd say they're the leader."
Smith lives in Valrico, Fla., but he might know more about Illinois than Melton. His mom spent her younger days in Champaign, attending Centennial. His grandpa still lives in Illinois. And his high school coach, who's from southern Illinois, coached Kruger's brother in junior college.
"I don't really want to make a commitment on my visit this weekend unless it's very clear that's where I want to go," Smith said. "I'm just kind of waiting for something to jump out at me, just kind of overwhelm everything else and tell me that's where I want to be."
Like, say, a capacity crowd at Saturday's free "Illini Madness" scrimmage, which will get going at about 3 p.m. at the Assembly Hall. Saturday is the first day teams can practice, and the Illini will go twice, once at 8 a.m., then again after the homecoming football game, a public scrimmage you're all invited to.
"They seem to think they'll get quite a crowd for that," Smith said.
It won't be anywhere near as big as the one Smith was a part of last weekend, when he made his only other official visit to date, to Florida State. Smith was in Doak Campbell Stadium for the first half of Florida State's thrilling win over rival Miami, along with 80,976 others.
"I'm not a football player, though," Smith said. "It's definitely a big football school. People are crazy about football there. I'm not sure how big they are on basketball, though."
Smith will pick between Illinois, Florida State, South Florida and maybe an Ivy League school, either Penn or Yale. He plans to make the 15-minute drive from his house to South Florida next weekend and see what the Conference USA school has to say.
Each program on his short list has things going for it. In Florida State's case, it's the league (Smith loves the ACC) and the opportunity to play.
"At Florida State, I feel very confident I could come in and play a fair amount right away," Smith said. "At Illinois, it sounds like after that first year I'd be a major contributor. It's probably good that I'd have a year to kind of get on my feet, get settled and get used to college life.
"That's not such a bad thing."
Smith likes South Florida for its proximity. Even if the Bulls don't play in an ACC or a Big Ten.
"I'd love to makeit past college, but big guys are a little different than a lot of people," Smith said. "A lot of good big guys come out of nowhere."
Smith likes Kruger's style (he remembers him from his Florida days), the idea of getting an Illinois education and the fact that half of Champaign's heard of him.
"Coach Kruger and Coach (Robert) McCullum have talked a lot about how much support they get, how people talk about recruits on the radio and in the newspaper all the time," Smith said.
The vital numbers on Smith: he scored 17 points a game last season to go with 15 rebounds and eight blocks; he's put on close to 45 pounds in the last year and now tips the scale at 235; and he stands 7-1.
In his bare feet.
"So whether you want to include shoes or not, that's up to you," Smith said.
Melton and Smith won't be the only recruits on campus this weekend. Three of the country's top juniors are also expected: 6-6 Roger Powell Jr. of Joliet, 6-9 David Lee of St. Louis' Chaminade Prep and 6-10 Eddy Curry of Thornwood.