Now is the time of year when high school basketball players really try and go out and make a name for themselves, and that's what guard Jamar Smith plans to do.
Thursday Jamar leaft on a plane to Hampton Virginia to play with Larry Butler's AAU team at the Boo Williams Invitational AAU tournament.
Every media person that covered the Illini this year loved to interview guard Dee Brown. I can tell you when Jamar gets to Champaign they will love him, too. What a great kid to talk with.
Let's talk about his work ethic. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Smith is lifting weights for two hours at a time. On that same day he will shoot over 400 jump shots. But before that, "I get up and go to the Landmark and shoot over 200 shots to make sure when I play my game will be sharp, which puts me at over 600 shots a day," said the smooth guard.
"When I get to Illinois I hope to be able to do what Dee and Deron are doing right now; they can both bring the ball up the court," said Smith. "At the U of I, coach Weber does a great job of letting his players be creative with getting the ball up court."
Illini fans don't think it will stop there for Jamar. He's asked his high school coach Ellis to work out his team's open gym times so that he can drive down to the University of Illinois everyday this summer to lift weights and play with the team. "I plan to make that drive as much as I need to if I plan to come in and get some minutes as a freshman," said Smith.
As for his AAU team, Smith loves it. "I love my AAU team right now because there are two other players on my team that I know the U of I are recruiting right now and coach Wayne McClain is such a great guy. I will do what I can to help get 6-8 Julian Wright and 6-5 forward Jon Scheyer to come to school with me at Illinois." How hard is Smith trying? "Julian and I talk on the phone every night; he's a great friend."
Last year the Big Ten player of the year award went to Wisconsin's Devin Harris. Hard to argue that one. When I asked Smith to compare his game to anyone in college basketball, he said without hesitation Devin Harris. "We're both quick and can get a shot off when we need to," Smith said. The times I've seen Smith play he's been great and I can't argue that comparison.
Smith said he couldn't wait to get down there to work out with the guys - it will only help his game.