The California men's basketball program has had its eye on Alameda (Calif.) St. Joseph's Notre Dame point guard Jadé Smith for quite some time. Nearly two years, in fact. So, when the Bears offered the 6-foot-2, four-star 2017 prospect, it wasn't much of a surprise.
"When Jaylen Hands committed to UCLA, I kind of knew that they were going to come after me, even harder," Smith said on Sunday, less than an hour after he finished his unofficial visit to Berkeley. "It wasn't really a surprise. They gave me the offer today, when I took the visit."
Smith has been to Berkeley before -- and even played in open gym with the current Bears -- but this was his first time seeing Cal actually practice, and he got the royal treatment.
"I was on campus from 10 to 3, first just touring it, going into the locker rooms, seeing the campus, and then I watched their practice, and also talked to the people who run the academics, who help the team out," Smith said. "Then, I sat down with coach [Cuonzo] Martin himself, and that's when he offered."
The Bears -- and assistant Yanni Hufnagel -- have been on Smith the longest out of any school, making the offer -- now among USC, San Diego State, Nevada, Montana and New Mexico -- very tempting.
"They've been talking to me the longest, and I've always really liked Cal," said Smith. "They're one of my top schools right now, that I would consider going to."
Smith certainly has heard comparisons to the last big point guard to come out of St. Joseph's -- one Jason Kidd -- and when he walked into Haas Pavilion on Sunday, the thought of following in Kidd's footsteps to Berkeley became much more real.
"That was really cool," Smith said. "When I was touring today, they had his jersey up in the locker room. Knowing that he had the same number as I do, it was really cool."
Smith and freshman Ivan Rabb knew of one another, but they were never close friends, Smith said, but getting to play against Rabb and the rest of the current team on his last visit a couple weeks ago, and then seeing the group practice formally this visit drove home what kind of jump it takes to get to the next level.
"It was really cool," Smith said. "They're really competitive and strong. It was something to play people who are on that next level. The practice, it was really competitive, throughout the whole practice. There was a lot of competition. I like that. They did a lot of skill work, also."
Smith finished last year with a 3.0, but said that this year, so far, is shaping up to be his best ever in the classroom.
Smith wants to visit the Trojans and the Aztecs, and was supposed to visit the Wolf Pack yesterday, but had a previous engagement.