The Illini Keep Reloading (Jamar Smith)

<p>Bruce Weber means business. Like I've mentioned in other articles, Weber is working very hard to recruit the nation's best players. Read here for my one-on-one interview with Mike Ellis, Jamar Smith's coach.

Kedric: Coach, when did you start to notice that Jamar had high Division I skills.

Mike: At the end of his sophomore year, he started to grow. He went from 6'-0" to 6'-1", and now he's 6'3". Each year his skill level got better and better. Jamar works hard at his game and will be a nice player at Illinois. You could see that he had the skills to play big-time basketball.

Kedric: What are his biggest strengths as a basketball player?

Mike: That's easy. Jamar is special; he can get a shot off anytime he wants. At the college level it's hard to find kids that can do that and do it well. He can do that by getting into the lane; he can also do that beyond the three-point line. His penetration skills are great. Just over the holiday tournament we watched him take advantage of DeAaron Williams, who is going to Wisconsin. Smith had Williams on his heels the entire game.

Kedric: Coach, Smith was starting to get some looks from other big-time programs, how serious were they?

Mike: Oh, they were very serious. Marquette and Kansas were really starting to pursue Jamar, but like I told other reporters, so was Indiana and Wisconsin.

Kedric: Coach, will he be able to help the Illini?

Mike: Jamar is a great athlete and he can play with the best of them.

Kedric: Thanks, Coach. I'm sure Illini fans nationwide are glad to have him.

Mike: You're welcome anytime.

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