September 20, 2010

Sophomore picks up offer

Smotherman has long been hyped in the Indiana class of 2013 and could be the top player in what is a very deep class of players. As such, he has drawn offers from the top programs in the Midwest early on.

"Xavier, Purdue , Illinois , Indiana , Ohio State , Michigan , Michigan State and Notre Dame," Smotherman said of the schools recruiting him early on.

In addition to the new Illinois offer, Smotherman listed offers from " Xavier , Indiana , Purdue and Notre Dame".

It was an enjoyable visit to the Illinois campus for the football game against Northern Illinois for the Smotherman family, as they got a chance to check out the campus and got a tour of the basketball facilities as well.

"It was good. The game was nice, Coach (Jay) Price showed me around campus a lot, people talked to me, and it was fun to hang with these guys," Smotherman said.

After a campus tour and the football game, it was back to Ubben where he got a chance to play against the current players. Smotherman is known for his versatility and his ability to score, and although he says he played well he noticed one area where he needs improvement.

"I thought I played well, they're a little strong though," Smotherman said. "I've got to get some more muscle, get a bit bigger."

As a sophomore in high school, he'll have plenty of time to do that over the next 3 years.

Smotherman is the 3rd member of the Eric Gordon All Stars 15 and under team to draw Illini interest, along with Zak Irvin and Devin Davis. Irvin visited the campus just last weekend and has also drawn an Illini offer, and Davis was offered earlier this summer as well. It is easy to see why this trio had such a fine summer on the travel circuit.

"Our summer was good," he said. "We lost in Vegas, although we really wanted to win that one, but we lost to the Atlanta Celtics. Me, Zak and Devin, we play hard. We have different stuff that we did. Zak has the mid range, Devin did stuff around the basket and I did more on the perimeter as an outside shooter. We came to play every game, and we picked each other up. We played very good, and I thought it was a great season."

As for his high school team at Heritage Christian, Smotherman has high expectations for the coming season. After a slow start last year, they finished strong after instilling his father's more uptempo style in his first year as the head coach at Heritage. They are trying to build on that in a big way this season.

"We only lost one senior, so we've got everybody else back," he said. "I think we can go all the way. If our center stays healthy, I feel like we can win a state championship."

His father, an assistant for 19 years before taking over last year, has been working hard with his son to shore up his game. Although the younger Smotherman is very talented, one thing that sets him apart is his understanding of the game and the areas where he needs improvement. Being a coaches son doesn't hurt in that regard.

"I've been working with my dad in the gym, we've been playing, and I've been working on my defense," Smotherman said. "I play against him and he's been backing me down, teaching me positioning and stuff. Rebounding, mid range and shooting the 3, but I definitely need to work on my free throws, I missed too many this summer."

As far as a recruiting goes, he is still very early in the process and is feeling everything out at this point. He talked about what he looks for on his visits and what he is looking for in a school.

"I'm kind of looking at how they (schools) can help you as a player, maybe looking at distance from home, how the education is, the history of the school and how the coaches work," Smotherman said. "I want an uptempo style, and coach that lets you play a little bit."

Although he is an Indiana kid, he says that playing in his home state is not a priority. Although he has in state schools such as Indiana, Purdue and Notre Dame on his early list, he doesn't mind looking out of state.

"It doesn't really matter," Smotherman said of staying at home. "I could stay in Indiana or go somewhere that I can get the best education and somewhere I can play."

Smotherman sees himself as a 2 or a 3 down the road, with some ability to play the point in certain situations. On his high school team he has the role of do it all wing player until it comes down to crunch time, when he gets the ball and tries to make things happen.

"Coach Price told me that I could be a 2 or a 3, and I can be a 1 a little bit," he said. "In high school I'm a 1 at crunch time when we're trying to win games. They give it to me and I try to make buckets."

And usually he does just that.

Smotherman will continue his visit tour this coming weekend with a trip to Purdue, and has already visited Notre Dame this fall as well, as he wins his way through the recruiting process.

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