Edwardsville's Mr. Basketball winner Mark Smith will announce his college decision on Wednesday evening following a wild recruitment and a tremendous senior season.
Smith had in-home visits with Michigan State and Duke early on last week. He went to Illinois for an unofficial visit last Thursday. And he took his final official visit over the weekend at Ohio State.
Now, Smith is ready to let it be known where he will play next season and the years to come.
If he chooses Illinois
Brad Underwood will have hit a big home run just more than a month into his tenure -- sending an Illinois Mr. Basketball to Champaign for the first time since 2010. Underwood inherited highly-talented lead guard Jawun Evans for his one year at Oklahoma State. The results included what was the most efficient offense in college basketball last season. Smith would give Underwood 'his guy' to build around at Illinois.
This would be a recruiting win over Michigan State. Tom Izzo and his staff wanted Smith badly. Kentucky was intrigued enough to offer and send John Calipari for an in-home visit. Duke and Ohio State were in the mix as well. Those are big names with big reputations in college basketball. The kind that usually pick players away from Illinois at will. But a win for Underwood would be an early statement for a new regime.
Smith has the potential to be one of the feature faces for a resurgence at Illinois. He would give the Illini an impact guard, who has a ready-made frame and skill set for the next level. Smith could be one of the best freshmen guards in the Big Ten. And he could be one of the conference's best players before his career is over.
If he doesn't choose Illinois
The Illini will have been served a harsh double-dose of rejection. Jeremiah Tilmon started it off by requesting out of his letter of intent early this month. And Smith heading elsewhere would make that even harder to swallow. In fact, you could say Illinois went 0-for-4 (Tilmon, Smith, Jordan Goodwin and Javon Pickett) on one of the best crops of talent metro-east has produced.
Meanwhile, Smith would be thrown into the Shaun Livingston category for wearing Illini gear at school prior to picking someone else.
Confidence in Illinois pledge
(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the highest) 9 -- Illinois enters the day as the expected choice for the state's Mr. Basketball. That's a sight for sore eyes. The Illini staff did a great job on the visit last week. Underwood has done very well in selling his vision for Smith. Jamall Walker helped immensely to bridge the relationship gap. And when it all boils down, Smith wants the ball. Illinois can give him that right away.