Reasons why 4-star Smith could pick Illini

Reasons why 4-star Smith could pick Illini

Mark Smith will be on campus at Illinois today, getting one last look at the Illini before a scheduled official visit at Ohio State this weekend. The recruitment for the 2017 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year appears to be nearing its conclusion.

Beat writer SCOTT RICHEY has five reasons the Edwardsville star might think about sticking close to home:

He’s ‘the guy’

Miles Bridges staying at Michigan State, Grayson Allen doing the same at Duke and Kentucky securing a commitment from 2017 four-star guard Jemarl Baker could all possibly mean less playing time at those programs than Smith might see at Illinois. The 6-foot-5 guard would be right in the thick of things with the Illini.

Mapping it out

Simple geography, really. Champaign is a 21/2-hour drive from Edwardsville, giving Smith’s family easier opportunities to see him play. Kentucky is twice that far, Ohio State an hour more and Michigan State an hour more on top of that. And Duke? Better build up some frequent flier miles or just get used to 12-hour one-way trips.

The man in charge

Smith can play off the ball and shot 38 percent from three-point range this past season at Edwardsville. But he can be a monster with the ball in his hands — creating for his teammates or finding his own way to the rim. There’s a place for that in a Brad Underwood offense. Just ask Jawun Evans.

Hometown legends

Illinois has landed just two Mr. Basketball winners in the last 15 years, with the last, Jereme Richmond, not sticking around long enough to make much of an impact. But some Illinois Mr. Basketball winners have gone on to become Illini legends (see Dee Brown, Deon Thomas and Nick Anderson as examples).

Putting the pieces together

Picture an Illinois backcourt with a bigger, physical guard matched with a smaller, speedier guard. That could be Brad Underwood’s first team should Smith team up with new fan favorite Trent Frazier. Sound familiar? On paper, at least, a Smith-Frazier backcourt could be the second coming of Deron & Dee (with Jalen Coleman-Lands playing the Luther Head role).

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Moonpie wrote on April 20, 2017 at 9:04 am

Silly, desperate, pathetic.

Why not just pen a column that whines, "Please, please, please, please, oh pretty please with sugar on top pick us because we are such a dumpster fire in need of actual talent."

Desperate cheerleading.

illini133 wrote on April 20, 2017 at 10:04 am

Moonpie why don't you keep your word and go away?  Negative responses to every Loren Tate article are bad enough but do you have to go after every article.  We realize you were not good enough to cut it working for the News Gazette and you harbor ill feelings to everyone that is successfully employed there.  This article is meant to give reasons why this player could come here.  If you dont like to read positive articles about Illini sports then dont read the local paper.  


cowpie needs a hobby wrote on April 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm

And boom goes the dynamite.

Unfortnately the behavior of the deranged, embittered one will not change unless NG writers write the dour, negative stories he wants written.