Recruitment heating up for Smith

Recruitment heating up for Smith

CHAMPAIGN — Less than a dozen of the top 100 prospects in the country remain uncommitted with the start of the regular signing period approaching on April 12.

Some, like five-star recruits Trevon Duval, Mohamed Bomba and Kevin Knox — all in the top 10 in the Class of 2017 — have narrowed their lists to a few likely contenders. Their recruitments aren’t complete, but potential landing spots make up a short list.

That’s what makes Mark Smith’s recruitment unique. The Edwardsville senior, ranked a four-star prospect and No. 78 nationally by Rivals, has seen his recruitment only pick up steam since late December.

A top 100 prospect with a relatively wide open recruitment is a hot commodity. Kentucky has reportedly expressed interest, and Tom Izzo and the Michigan State coaching staff added to Smith’s recruitment buzz Tuesday night with an in-home visit and a scholarship offer — the 13th high major offer for Smith since Dec. 31.

“It is kind of crazy,” Smith said. “Coach Izzo in my house and offering me a scholarship was a surreal feeling but it was awesome. It was what I worked for.  I’m excited, but I’m still just trying to make a decision.”

Illinois is among Smith’s 13 high major offers and 22 total. He also holds offers from Kansas State, Northwestern, Missouri, Boston College, Indiana, Butler, California, Utah, Nebraska, Texas and Ohio State.

Now former Illini coach John Groce extended the offer to Smith after Edwardsville’s run to the Collinsville Holiday Classic title where the 6-foot-4 guard averaged 22.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists and shot 61 percent from the field in four games. Smith’s recruitment by Illinois continues under new coach Brad Underwood and assistant coach Jamall Walker.

“I’m building a good relationship with Coach Underwood right now,” said Smith, who added he still talks a lot with Walker. “I like him and how his playing style is and what he thinks I can bring to the table. I feel like he’ll help me achieve my dreams. He says they have a great recruiting class and I can help get Illinois basketball back to how it was earlier with the Flying Illini.”

The relationship with the coaching staff is at the top of Smith’s list when it comes to his recruitment. Right next to that coaching staff’s ability to develop him as a player.

“A coach that trusts in me and I trust in and will help get me to the next level and develop my game,” Smith said was important. “A place where I can develop into the best all-around basketball player I can become to get to the next level. That’s what I’m working to do. That’s my dream; to go to the NBA.

“I want to win. I want to play for a winning program, and I want to go to the tournament. That’s really what’s important for me.”

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BruckJr wrote on March 29, 2017 at 9:03 pm

Ok, I'll bite.  Who is Coach David Williams and what does he have to do with this story?

jk3363 wrote on March 30, 2017 at 11:03 am

He is Da'Monte Williams AAU coach.