Illinois Strikes Again In 2005

Bruce Weber's Illinois program isn't wasting any time when it comes to recruiting underclassmen. The Illini landed their second junior in as many days.

First it was power forward David Palmer. Then, just one day later, Illinois landed its second commitment from the Class of 2005.

Shooting guard Jamar Smith, a 6-3, 170 pounder out of Peoria Richwoods, wasted little time in accepting a scholarship offer from Illinois.

"He put together his Top 10 list and the first school he put down was Illinois," Richwoods coach Mike Ellis said. "He went to Midnight Madness and really enjoyed their players."

So, when the Illinois staff called earlier this week to extend a scholarship offer, Smith needed just one day to think it through. Wednesday, during a call to the staff, he committed to Bruce Weber.

Smith, who will run with Larry Butler's Illinois Warriors this spring, is averaging 19 points a game for Ellis. Right now, his greatest strength lies in his stroke.

"His strengths are his ability to get off his own shot," Ellis said. "He can pull up and he's got a pretty good release. He can put it on the floor, catch and shoot … he's got the whole thing."

Ellis said Wisconsin was close to offering and Smith even took an unofficial to the school. But, once Illinois extended that scholarship offer they quickly moved into the leadership role and were able to get it done.

"When Illinois came up with their offer, his love for Illinois … he didn't want to pass that up."

And he didn't, becoming the second junior in as many days to pledge allegiance to the Illini.

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