Smith to transfer from Illinois

Smith to transfer from Illinois

CHAMPAIGN — Illinois guard Mark Smith will transfer from the team. The news was first reported by Joe Henricksen of City/Suburban Hoops Report and confirmed by Illinois on Monday afternoon.

"We thank Mark for the effort and contributions he made to our team this year,” Illini head coach Brad Underwood said in a statement. “We wish him nothing but the best as he continues to pursue his dreams.”

Smith, the reigning News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year, played in 31 of 32 games during his freshman season. He started the first nine games of the season and 16 of the first 17 games.

After a strong start, including double-digit scoring in four of Illinois' first five games, Smith's production slowed. He finished the season averaging 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

The 2017 Illinois Mr. Basketball winner, Smith was the first player to commit to Illinois after the coaching change from John Groce to Brad Underwood last spring. Smith was also the first Illinois Mr. Basketball winner to pick the Illini since Jereme Richmond in 2010.

Smith rocketed up recruiting rankings during his senior season at Edwardsville and ended up a consensus top 100 prospect.

Smith initially held offers from Wright State, SIU-Edwardsville and other mid-major programs before his superb senior season at Edwardsville in 2016-17.

Illinois offered him in early January 2017 when Groce was still the Illini coach. Other high-major programs soon got in on Smith's recruitment, with Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio State and others, shortly thereafter before Smith chose the Illini in late April 2017.

The social media response to Smith's reported decision? What one might expect with a mix of vitriol, confusion and some support:

 

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rory373@aol.com wrote on March 05, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Not a major loss at all. He is clearly SIU-E material.

Bwp 5P wrote on March 05, 2018 at 4:03 pm

I think he needed another year. He did show Flashes at times. Too Bad. He sure wasn't an instant Game Changer like we all hoped........but those Young Men are few AND far between! I don't remember Kendall Gill and some of our other STARS dominating as Freshman.

Surely Moonpie will comment and blame this on either Loren Tate or the N-G! If you haven't read that individual's HATE.............consider it your Lucky Day!

Moonpie wrote on March 05, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Here we go! When the kid signed, he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now he's a dog. I suspect Prehistoric Tate and Dr. Richey will quickly assert that they knew all along he was no good.

We. Will. Win.

byrdslover wrote on March 05, 2018 at 5:03 pm

Exactly.  He was the greatest recruit in history when he signed with Illinoize.  Once someone leaves, they are totally worthless.

GLG wrote on March 05, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Tell us Moonpie why did you get fired from the News-Gazette and how many names you are posting under?

read the DI wrote on March 05, 2018 at 9:03 pm

Whatever we think Smith might become, the truth is many players are impactful their freshman year -- especially these days when the top talent departs early for the NBA. Despite being given every opportunity, Smith was a washout. He can't shoot, and he wasn't quick enough (athletically or in decision-making) to compete at this level this year. Whether he improves remains to be seen, but given he came in as a higher ranked recruit than Frazier, who is far superior, and Te'Jon Lucas, who is smaller but a better ballhandler and has higher hoop IQ, and with incoming Class of 2018 guards Alan Griffin (another big guard) and of course Ayo Dosunmu, Smith would be on the outside looking in next year.