Justin Smith Headed To The Big Ten

By Roy & Harv Schmidt

September 26, 2016

7:30 P.M. CST

From the very beginning, Justin Smith knew everything that he was looking for when it came to deciding on a college.  And because of the fact that he is not only a top 100 player nationally in the class of 2017 but also a top-of-the-line student many thought that his recruitment might lead him a considerable distance from home.

Not so fast!  In the end, Smith ended up choosing the school that he sees as offering him the perfect blend of basketball and academics.  As a result, Smith announced tonight via his Twitter that he has committed to Indiana University and head coach Tom Crean.  Smith chose the Hoosiers over Villanova and besides taking official visits to both of those schools he also visited Xavier.

There were several reasons to believe that Villanova would end up landing Smith.  After all, not only are they the defending NCAA champions, but their starting point guard--Jalen Brunson--was Smith's teammate on Stevenson's 2015 Class 4A state champion and that season's winner of the prestigious Mr. Basketball award in Illinois.  

The bottom line, however, is that Indiana presented Smith with a winning combination that was simply impossible for the other suitors to overcome.  That is because Smith has the opportunity come in and make an immediate impact in one of the premier conferences in college basketball at a school with tremendous tradition.  And, as we mentioned, Indiana also has everything that Smith is looking for academically.

Smith visited Indiana on multiple occasions, including his official visit which he took just over two weeks ago as well as attending Indiana's Hoosier Hysteria a year ago.  He loves the campus atmosphere, the tradition and the coaching staff.

Extreme kudos go out to Hoosiers assistant coach Rob Judson, who was IU's lead recruiter for Smith and most instrumental in enabling them to close the deal.  Judson knows the lay of the land in Illinois as well as any assistant in the D1 ranks and few if any college assistants are more respected in the Land Of Lincoln.  He was on Smith from the get-go, made him a top priority and established a most strong relationship with both Smith and his parents.

Smith was showcased throughout the past Spring and Summer playing on the travel team circuit for the Mac Irvin Fire. He took full advantage of it and in doing so showed immense improvement in several key skill areas, including ball handling, shooting and defense.  That is why Smith was our Summer Award winner as the player in Illinois who helped his stock the most nationally (http://ilprepbullseye.com/Summer_Awards.html).  

Not only does Smith have big time athleticism, but he also proven to be a multi-dimensional wing who can play as many as three positions on the court.  He has shown immense improvement in two primary areas, namely ball handling and perimeter shooting.  Smith can bring the ball up the court and put it on the floor in traffic as well as being able to spot up and bury shots from beyond the 3-point stripe with regularity.  That said, the strongest facet of his game is how he excels in the open court and utilizes his high-flying athletic ability to finish with authority.  Smith is indisputably among the top 5 players in Illinois from the 2017 class.

With Smith in the fold, he gives Crean and the Hoosiers their second commitment in their 2017 class.  Not only that, but the potential is there for Indiana to turn in a monster class, as they are also still very much in the running for 6'8 forward Kris Wilkes from North Central High School in Indianapolis, IN and 6'9 power forward Billy Preston from Oak Hill Academy in Mouth Of Wilson, VA.  Both are top 20 players nationally and legit McDonald's All-American candidates. 

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Additional Recruiting Note

... In other recruiting news involving Illinois-based prospects, 6'0 2017 combo guard Keondre Schumacher of Normal U-High in Normal, IL committed today to Winthrop.  Schumacher chose the Eagles over offers from North Dakota, Indiana-Purdue-Ft. Wayne and Cal-Poly and also took an official visit to the Rock Hill, SC campus this past week.  He played on the travel team circuit for All-In/Young And Reckless and gives that program their third D1 commitment from the 2017 class.

In addition to Winthrop, Schumacher also took an official visit to North Dakota.  However, the Hawks ended up accepting a commitment from another 2017 recruit out of Illinois--6'0 combo guard Tray Buchanan from United Township High School in East Moline, IL--which eliminated them from contention for Schumacher's services.

We welcome comments regarding this story or any other entry published by Illinois Prep Bulls-eye.  They can be made by e-mailing us at royandharv@ilprepbullseye.com.

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