Palatine Soph Guard Impressed By UI Visit

The Fighting Illini basketball staff is looking at several guards from the state of Illinois in the class of 2015. One of the best, Roosevelt Smart, visited campus for the first time on Friday. He got the chance to see some of what Illinois, and Coach John Groce, has to offer. This left a wonderful first impression on the star sophomore guard.

The University of Illinois is the first school outside of the Chicago area that Roosevelt Smart has visited. His visit included a complete tour of the campus, along with the basketball facilities, Memorial Stadium, and Assembly Hall.

"It was a lot of fun. I love the campus, the coaching staff, and just the overall school, period."

Several things impressed the young guard, but three things excited him most.

"The first thing I saw was the former players and alumni that came back to support the current players. I also really like what they are trying to do with the new arena and the upgrades to the Assembly Hall and the overall program, how they want to win championships. That's what I want to do, win championships."

"When I went inside Assembly Hall, the first time all I could think was about how I can't imagine how loud and noisy it gets. Wow. I look forward to following in the footsteps of all the other great guards that played there."

Looking forward to following the former Illinois guards? Does that mean he already has a top choice in mind?

"I'm only starting my sophomore year, and I want enjoy this as much as possible. I haven't even started to make a decision yet; I just want to see it all first. I want to come back here for a football or basketball game this year too, hopefully both."

In addition to Illinois, he has visited DePaul and Loyola. The guard currently holds high major offers from the latter, as well as Wright State.

Smart also got a chance to see the inside of Memorial Stadium and even play a little football with the coaching staff.

"I was the first person to step on the football field this year. I even scored a couple of touchdowns on some pretty good passes from two of the coaches. That was cool."

Smart got a chance to meet the entire coaching staff and said no one in particular is taking charge of his recruitment. But when asked to describe what he thought of the overall staff, he had a short answer that Fighting Illini fans will love to hear.


What he is looking for in a school?

"I will have to fit in with the coaching staff and what they want to do, and the school will have to fit with what I like to do. The community and the other students at the school also mean a lot. I don't know what I want to study yet, but that will play a part too."

The 6'2", 170 pound guard has already grown an inch this summer and thinks he will probably get to 6'4" or 6'5" before he is done. He likes what he sees in Groce's system and thinks that he can fit in nicely.

"I like to run a lot and come off of ball screens to make plays. I am a team-first player who likes to spread it around. I can play both shooting guard and point guard, so I can be like a combo guard. But I like to play the point more."

Smart plays AAU ball with the Illinois Wolves during the summer, joining three other top players in the class of 2015, Jordan Ash, Prentiss Nixon, and Glynn Watson.

"I play for one of the best AAU teams in the country, and all we do is win. I love to win. Playing with Jordan, Prentiss, and Glynn is great. I'm not sure if Illinois is looking at them yet. If they would come to school here, that would definitely draw me to come to school here."

During the high school season, the sophomore guard suits up for Palatine's varsity.

"I want to take the leadership [from the AAU season] and my game back to my high school team and win there too. Last year I was the only freshman playing varsity."

Smart has several people helping with the recruitment process, including former Illini guard Demetri McCamey, Watson's brother.

"My mom and stepdad are the ones giving me advice. My head coach and assistant coach at Palatine are both teachers, and they help a lot too. I also talk to Demetri on the phone sometimes, and he is giving me advice and building a relationship with me."

Smart is a big fan of both Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and hopes to one day play like the NBA stars.

"I really like Kobe for his competitiveness and how his offensive game is ridiculous, yet he still plays great defense. I also like LeBron because he can play the point, and his play just keeps evolving and getting better. He gets all those triple doubles, and I want to be able to do that someday."

Hopefully, Illini fans will someday be seeing Roosevelt Smart piling up triple doubles wearing the Orange and Blue!

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