Celebrating his 26th birthday Sunday is former Illini three-point shooting star Jamar Smith.
The 6-foot-3 guard from Peoria Richwoods was a News-Gazette All-State first-team selection in 2005, joining Chester Frazier and C.J. Jackson in Illinois’ recruiting class.
As a rookie, Smith appeared in 32 of 33 Illini games, averaging 8.0 points per game. Nearly 76 percent of his 181 field goal attempts that first season were from beyond the three-point arc, and he successfully made 48 percent of his long shots, best in the Big Ten.
In 2006-07, Smith’s sophomore season, he appeared in 21 games. An ankle injury sidelined him from Game 2 through Game 7, then he got back in the lineup for 20 of the next 21 contests. The injured ankle severely affected his long-range shooting, dropping his percentage to less than 32 percent.
On Feb. 12, 2007, while driving intoxicated, he wrecked his car and seriously injured teammate Brian Carlwell. Smith was suspended for the remainder of the 2007 season and through the next season as well.
His basketball career resumed Dec. 30, 2008, with Division II power Southern Indiana. He averaged 21 points per game.
Smith had a brief fling with the NBA’s Boston Celtics but was cut in October 2012. Today, he plays professional basketball for Galil Gilboa in Israel.
Sunday: Mitch Walk, baseball (35)
Monday: Kendra Gantt, basketball (50)
Tuesday: Bruce Douglas, basketball (49)
Wednesday: Paul & Phil Judson, basketball (79)
Thursday: Jillian Randell, swimming (38)
Friday: Dave Scholz, basketball (65)
Saturday: Erin Virtue, volleyball (30)
By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore and assistant athletic director at Miami (Ohio)
Get Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter @IlliniLegends