Shooting guard Jamar Smith (6-3) is from Peoria, Illinois and has been a very nice surprise to this year's 2005-06 men's basketball team. Smith was known as a shooting guard coming out of high school and like a lot of players, didn't make that top 50 list of players. Some would doubt those players' talent level. Don't doubt Smith's. "I don't care; rankings don't mean a thing to me. I just go out and play. Once the game starts people don't care about that stuff," Smith said.
Doesn't really matter which player or coach you talk to right now at Illinois, they will tell you that Jamar is playing good basketball. Coach Bruce Weber said if they would have kept stats this summer Smith would be the team's leading scorer, without a doubt.
Senior center James Augustine said, "Jamar is going to be a really good player for Illinois by the time he's done here. He can shoot it and he's showing everyone he can put the ball on the floor and take it to the rim."
Smith has made no secret of the fact that he was extremely excited about coming to play for Illinois. "This is like a dream come true for me. I think I've done so well because when I was in high school I would come down here to play with these guys all the time, so they were helping me then. How can you not get better playing with Dee, Luther and Deron?" Smith asked.
Weber talked about this year's guards being different than Luther and Deron. "Those guys could run and shoot out of motion. With these guys they seem to be more spot-up shooters, so that's going to be a change. But they do that very well."
Smith ran the motion offense in high school so he's very familiar with it. This will only help him when the rest of the team is still trying to find its identity and should help Weber when it comes to deciding his eight-man rotation. If Smith continues to play at the level he's playing at right now, he will be in that rotation.