Four-star forward Justin Smith of Lincolnshire (IL) Stevenson made his official visit to Indiana over the weekend, along with his parents.
The 6-foot-6 very athletic forward ranked No. 91 nationally in the 2017 class by Scout.com had made previous unofficial visits to IU.
For the Smiths, Indiana is a program they know well.
“What I like is the fact that Indiana has great history and great tradition,” Ed Smith, Justin’s father and an Illinois graduate, told Peegs.com. “I’ve been watching Indiana basketball as well as Illinois basketball since I was a young kid.
“I knew all the history of Indiana basketball, growing up watching Bobby Knight’s teams. I knew all the players names on the Indiana teams, the Quinn Buckners, Wayne Radfords, Bobby Wilkersons, Scott Mays, all of those guys, as well as watching Illinois when Rob Judson was a player. It’s about the rich history of Indiana basketball.
“I grew up in Danville (Illinois) which is about an hour from Bloomington. I had all that history and knowledge from the past, and the rich tradition has always been appealing.”
The Smiths arrived at IU on Saturday and stayed through Sunday.
They took in the IU football game and spent time around campus, but the main focus was on spending time with IU coach Tom Crean and assistants Rob Judson, Chuck Martin and Tim Buckley as well as the current IU players.
“It was a very good visit. It was nice time with coach Crean and coach Rob Judson. The time with the players was very good. Overall it was a very good visit,” Ed Smith said.
“I wouldn’t say one thing was key. The visit was more predicated on time with coach Crean and time with the players. It was about getting a good vibe for the campus at a football game and just kind of taking it all in.”
The Smiths have known Judson since the end of Justin Smith’s sophomore year of high school.
“He’s been a real gentleman. He’s been instrumental in Justin’s recruiting,” Ed Smith said.
Part of the weekend conversations between the IU coaches and the Smiths was about how and why Justin Smith would fit in and develop at Indiana.
“It is because of the style that Indiana plays,” Ed Smith said. “They’re a running team. Justin is excellent in transition. He’s able to use his athleticism and in transition be able to stop and hit the 3 or continue on with his shot at the elbow.
“Ball movement — he’s been raised on that since fourth grade. The skill work he’s put in is predicated on specific game situations in a structured offense, and when a team runs, that fits very well.
“What they want to do, they feel he would fit very well with what they’ve observed the past two years. They’ve watched his progression. Each year, he’s gotten better and better and his confidence has gone higher and higher.”
Crean also had a film session with the Smiths, including video of Justin’s game.
“We went over some film, and there were some really, really positive things and some things that he needs to work on,” Ed Smith said. “It’s a progression, and Justin is progressing very well.”
Indiana’s academics, including the Kelley School of Business, impressed as well.
“That’s very important,” Ed Smith said. “It’s well documented that Justin is a very, very good student. He’s an A, B+ student. That’s very important.
“That comes from looking at the business side of the curriculum. We’re looking for that balance of academics and great, great basketball.”
Even though Justin plays high school basketball in the Chicago suburbs and his parents are Illinois graduates who grew up in Big Ten country, geography hasn’t been a major factor in Justin’s recruitment.
Justin Smith has official visits planned Villanova (weekend of Sept. 17) and to Stanford (weekend of Sept. 30) and those are still set, his father said.
“We’ll gather around once it’s all complete and look at each of the schools,” Ed Smith said.