Four-star wing Justin Smith has narrowed his college list to seven high-major programs, and he included Fighting Illini basketball. The Illinois native also named Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Villanova, Xavier, and Stanford as finalists. Smith is the No. 67 overall player in 247Sports' class-of-2017 rankings.
I'd like to thank all the coaches who have recruited me thus far. These are my final schools in no particular order! pic.twitter.com/NfcXGkGLVt— Justin Smith (@justinsmith3_) August 2, 2016
Smith received a scholarship offer from the program last April. Illinois' interest in the 6-foot-7 forward subsided after a lackluster showing on the AAU circuit the following Summer, but he has since silenced any doubts in regards to his development. While playing with the Mac Irvin Fire this offseason, Smith averaged 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game.
Also of note: Smith is a former high school teammate of Villanova guard Jalen Brunson; the duo lead Stevenson high school to the 2015 IHSA 4A State Title. It stands to reason that the Wildcats may have a legitimate shot thanks to that relationship. Winning a NCAA title doesn't hurt their chances, either.
Given Illinois' current needs, I wouldn't say that a commitment from Smith is very likely. The coaching staff is looking to add a point guard (Trent Frazier), a wing (Jordan Goodwin), and another big man with their three remaining scholarships. Although if Goodwin does eventually opt for another school, Smith provides John Groce with another very talented option.
Justin Smith Highlights