Brad Underwood and Fighting Illini basketball will have at least one more chance to make an in-person pitch to their top recruiting target.
According to Norm Sanders of the Belleville News-Democrat, four-star guard Mark Smith will be taking an unofficial visit to Champaign on Thursday. Additionally, Michigan State and Duke will be downstate on Wednesday for in-home visits, while Ohio State is primed to receive their own campus visit on Friday.
Smith averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists, and 8.2 rebounds per game last season while leading Edwardsville to a Class 4A Sectional Championship. The year-long performance was enough to earn 2017 Illinois ‘Mr. Basketball’ honors by a fairly large margin over Purdue commit Nojel Eastern.
The 6-foot-5 guard recently discussed Illinois’ pitch with the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“I like Coach Underwood,” Smith said. “I feel like he’s going to do good things there. They said I would have the ball in my hands a lot and be able to make plays. And they’re bringing in good players.
“He talked to me about how I could fit in to his program. (He said) they’d love for me to be a part of Illinois basketball and try to change it and make history.”
Smith, the No. 81 overall prospect according to 247Sports, continues to rise up the national rankings. The Fighting Illini have four open scholarships after the decommitments of Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, and although there are already plenty of wing players on the roster, an addition like Smith would provide an instant-impact player on the offensive end.