Jamar Smith is a 6-3 shooting guard from Peoria Richwoods, Illinois who committed to Bruce Weber last year. Assistant Coach Wayne McClain saw enough of Smith and told Weber this kid could play at Illinois.
Recently Smith has been on a scoring spree. I asked Smith if he was coming into his own now. "No, nothing different. The offense we run is just what Illinois runs and it makes it so much easier to get a lot of open looks and I've been knocking them down. Even though I have the reputation as a shooter, I feel I move well without the ball," said Smith.
Smith knows that when he takes the court people are going to challenge him at all times. "People know we are one of the better teams in the state and people know I'm going to Illinois. They want to see what I can do, so they will be coming at our team in a different way," added Smith.
Smith is a pretty observant student of the game, and sometimes he does take a peak at Scout.com along with a couple other places that rank high school players. Smith gave me his take on where the gurus have him ranked. "Ked, I try not to let it bother me too much but just to let you know, on my computer at home as my screensaver I have a couple recruiting sites that state all these kids who they feel are better than me. I see that everyday and I sometimes use that as an edge to play harder everyday. The ideal thing would be for me to meet up with some of those players that are ranked ahead of me at state. What ever team wins - then you will know who the better player really is," Smith said.
Playing for the number #1 team in the nation has Smith excited. "Fans are always asking me about playing for the best team in college basketball and want to know if I'm ready for it. My response is yes. I love it when Illinois fans come see my play," Smith said. "It's a great time because people from Champaign come to see me play wearing all that orange. We've had so many Illini fans at our games this year. When we played at Schaumburg it was unbelievable. It was orange everywhere. It was nice and I really enjoyed it," Smith stated.
Smith knows if he wants to come in and see playing time he must improve his point guard skills. "You look at the U of I and Deron, Dee and Luther can all handle the ball. Right now I have the two spot mastered and I'm working on playing the point," he added.
For those who don't know, Jamar is very good friends with Glenbrook North's Jon Scheyer. Before I could ask Jamar another question he talked about Scheyer. "Man Ked, I talked to him a week ago and we are looking really good with him right now. I will keep working on him."
Tonight Smith plays at home in Peoria this game is for the Mid State 6 title. I will be in Peoria to see Jamar and another future All-Stater - Bill Cole.