For the first time this year, Indiana will host an official visit from a member of the Class of 2017.
Four-star forward Justin Smith from Stevenson High in Lincolnshire, Illinois is expected to arrive in Bloomington on Saturday. Official visits last up to 48 hours and are at the expense of the host school and normally include members of the recruit's family.
Smith and his family are already pretty familiar with Bloomington. This will be at least his fourth trip as he made several unofficial campus trips during 2015.
Currently ranked No. 91 overall in the senior class, the 6-foot-7, 200-pounder has also scheduled officials to Villanova a week from today and Stanford is set to host him beginning September 30th. Players are allowed five official visits but Smith has only scheduled these three trips at this time.
SEE RELATED: Peegs.com visit calendar
Michigan was once viewed as a threat to land Smith but the Wolverines fell out of this one a few weeks ago after landing Isaiah Livers, another small forward. Xavier hosted Smith last weekend on an unofficial visit. Call the Musketeers the sleeper pick here.
Wisconsin and Illinois were part of a August 1st cut but lack of a scheduled visit has them looking like longer shots.
Most of the chatter has Indiana as the favorite or at least a co-favorite with Stanford or Villanova. The Wildcats just recently landed Jermaine Samuels, another big wing but remain interested in Smith. Jay Wright has his former Stevenson teammate, point guard Jalen Brunson.
At this point Indiana has one 2017 commitment, unranked combo guard Al Durham Jr. The Hoosiers could be looking to add four or five from this class given the NBA potential of Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby and James Blackmon Jr.
Smith is a small forward and Indiana is heavily involved with a pair of higher ranked players at that position in Indianapolis native Kris Wilkes and Jordan Tucker. Wilkes has long been a five star and Tucker is ranked No. 79. Tucker recently announced a move from New York to the greater Atlanta area and he may be looking to sign in the late period next spring.
There's probably no question that Indiana would take at least two of those three forwards.
Interesting side note
Both of Smith's parents went to the University of Illinois. The Illini staff, however, seemed to prioritize another highly ranked small forward from Illinois in Jordan Goodwin. The Belleville native then surprised some with a mid-August commitment to nearby Saint Louis and new coach Travis Ford.
Smith has all the tools, he just needs to find consistency and a consistent fifth gear. Big time athlete who had some of the best dunks we saw in the spring and summer. At the same time he can put the ball on the floor and at times can hit the jumper. Range or a consistent jumper isn't there yet but has good form and should improve into a good shooter. Stronger than most wing forwards his age. Very bright on and off the court. That's one reason why Stanford is pushing hard.
Quotes on the Hoosiers
"Coach (Tom) Crean and his staff do a really good job of developing players. They make players who may not be highly touted out of high school and turn them into pros. Just the way they develop and have confidence in their players."
Assistant in charge
This has been a Rob Judson recruitment the whole way. As the former head coach of Northern Illinois who had stints on the staffs of Illinois, Bradley and Illinois State, he knows the state of Illinois about as well as any college assistant.
The "PBR" take
The pre-visit take from Mike Pegram, Brian Snow and Jeff Rabjohns:
Mike Pegram: A little recruiting momentum certainly wouldn't hurt and Indiana would get that with a Smith commitment. It would also be the first direct from high school addition of a scholarship state of Illinois player since Verdell Jones III. Add that to the success of Nick Zeisloft's and Mx Bielfeldt's stops in Bloomington, and Indiana can continue to get more aggressive in that fertile recruiting territory.
Smith shouldn't scare away a Kris Wilkes and both have the versatility to play the two or the four positions and be on the court at the same time.
As we've written before, the small forward position has set up really well for Indiana and this could be the first domino there to fall.
Brian Snow: This is a big visit for Indiana. Smith has had an interesting recruitment with a lot of his favorite schools picking up commitments at his position and either backing off or having a more crowded depth chart. With that the Hoosiers seem to have put themselves in a good position here. I don't know that the intention is for Smith to commit on or right after his visit, but I'm definitely not ruling it out.
Smith would provide Indiana with an athletic and versatile forward with tremendous character. He would be a valuable addition to the roster, and is definitely a good piece to the puzzle.
Jeff Rabjohns: IU has put itself in a strong position with Smith, who has approached his recruitment in a thoughtful, measured manner. He's grown up in a Big Ten household as both of his parents are Illinois graduates.
Smith impressed me at a number of events, but certainly at the NBPA Top 100 camp when he was incredibly effective in the mid-range and led his very talented team in scoring in two games.
As a very athletic and versatile forward, Smith is the kind of player who fits hand-in-glove with how Crean likes his teams to play, and Smith, while talented already, has the opportunity to make a jump because his perimeter game isn't that advanced at this stage of his development.
On a scale of one to 10 with 10 being the highest chance, we'll give this one a three. Strictly speaking to a commitment to Indiana over the weekend or in the 24-48 hours after returning home.
Peegs.com has compiled both spring and summer scouting video highlights of Smith when he competed on the Nike EYBL circuit for the Chicago based Mac Irvin Fire. He's No. 3 in the clips.
Summer scouting video:
Spring summer scouting video: