During a player’s senior season often times their recruitment can explode with the available talent pool low due to early signees and schools begin reaching for lesser talented prospects. That is especially the case with players who seem to come out of nowhere. This year one prospect who has come out of nowhere is Mark Smith, now the question is, are the high-major offers warranted.
On Friday Scout.com traveled to see Smith and his Edwardsville teammates take on a very talented East St. Louis squad led by five-star center Jeremiah Tilmon.
While Smith struggled some in the first half, he really played well in the second half finishing with 19 points and leading his squad to a big win, and remaining the No. 1 ranked team in the area.
When breaking down Smith, it is a tough evaluation. He is a big bodied 6-foot-3 guard with a good IQ, average athleticism, and a solid feel for the game. Also Smith has the look of someone who in time should be a pretty good shooter.
Right now it is clear that Smith is most comfortable playing on the ball as a point guard. Smith is someone who definitely is best when he is creating and initiating the offense, and he uses his strength to get to spots on the floor.
Smith is not a player who really beats his man off the dribble, so in that respect he doesn’t create many layups for himself, or draw defenders from their man to him in help. Because of that he isn’t likely to simply create open shots for teammates, but what he does is gets to places on the floor using strength and then he knows what to do when he gets there.
Once in or near the lane, Smith shows a good feel for finding a teammate, and then also shows a good idea of knowing when to shoot and when to pass.
Also it is worth noting that Smith is not someone who turns the ball over. Though isn’t explosive, his handle is very tight against pressure, and he knows how to use his big frame to keep defenders away from the ball. Because of his handle and strong IQ, Smith projects to be someone who turns the ball over at a low rate when he gets to college.
Currently his outside shot has a good look to it, though it didn’t always fall in the game seen. In time Smith is likely to be a good shooter because of his smooth release and excellent rotation on his shot. Also his footwork is good, and he typically only takes good shots and doesn’t force things.
While on the offensive end Smith is definitely someone who can play point guard, defensively he might be best defending wings. He has the strength and wingspan to be a solid defender, but his athleticism and lateral quickness probably work better against player who don’t fit the traditional point guard mold.
Still he has some versatility on the defensive end, as he does understand the game and anticipates well. Beyond that he gives good effort, and seems to take pride in not letting his man score.
Overall Smith is a lot better than most out of nowhere blow up kids. He is legitimately someone who high-major schools would offer earlier on his recruitment. He projects as someone who can definitely be a contributor at the high-major level, and brings an understanding and feel for the game which should allow him to contribute early no matter where he chooses to play.