IU Coach Tom Crean has his eyes on some big bodies for the 2010 class, and they don't come much bigger (or better) than 6-9, 280-pound Josh Smith.
Smith is the third-ranked player in the 2010 class according to Scout.com, a mountainous big man who averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds as a sophomore at Kentwood (Wash.) H.S. near Seattle. He's getting attention from programs from coast to coast, Indiana included.
"(Indiana's interest) just started recently," Smith said shortly after wrapping up play at the adidas "It Takes 5ive" event in Cincinnati. "I didn't know they had interest in me, and then I got a letter from them. I thought they were just going to show me a little interest, but then I started getting letters about once every two days. So it's started to pick up."
The Hoosiers' interest hasn't stopped with just letters. Smith said his father has talked with members of Crean's coaching staff, and IU has also made contact with Smith's AAU coach to let their interest be known.
"They've been showing some love," Smith said.
Members of the IU staff saw Smith play this week in Cincinnati when his Seattle Rotary AAU squad faced off against Bobby Capobianco, Stephan VanTreese and the rest of the Indiana Elite AAU squad. Indiana Elite escaped with a one-point overtime win, but Smith's 15-point, 11-rebound, eight-block effort provided evidence that he's deserving of his lofty ranking.
Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels was on hand for the showdown and raved about Smith's performance against a couple of very good Class of 2009 big men.
"Dominates – that's the best word to describe how Smith played against Indiana Elite One," Daniels said. "He uses his huge frame to grab rebounds and is active defensively. Offensively he scored at will and is tough to keep out of the paint. The 2010 class has some quality big men, and Smith is certainly right there amongst the best."
One of the things that separates Smith is that he's not just a big body. He combines that frame with the sort of skill that makes him an extremely tough match-up for anyone in the paint.
"A lot of coaches say I have great hands and that I play good defense, and that I'm all around good player," Smith said. "I understand I can do things better, but the biggest thing I hear is that I have good hands and a good feel for the ball."
While Indiana has taken notice of those skills, so have many others. He said he's being recruited by just about every team in the Pac-10, while Kansas, Kentucky, Georgetown, Louisville and Tennessee are some of the other heavy-hitters that are interested in him being a part of their 2010 classes.
He said location isn't going to be a big factor in his decision, and he's wide open to giving any program that's recruiting him a fair shot at this point, Indiana included.
Smith admits that he's not that familiar with the IU program at this point, but he's getting more up to speed on one of the Hoosiers' biggest selling points – their history. He's finding out about that not only through the mail he's receiving from Crean's staff, but also from his father.
"They talk to me about how they have a new coach now and how they're looking to build team chemistry," Smith said.
"They also talk about the history of the program a lot. My dad knows the college basketball history, so he knows about the Indiana Hoosiers and how they won five national championships and how they had a lot of greats that went through there."
Crean is looking to add to that tradition of success, and he knows getting players of Smith's ability would help tremendously in that endeavor. Smith is already one of the most dominant big men in the 2010 class, but he's hoping to spend the next two years adding additional dimensions to his game.
"I want to expand my game shooting wise," Smith said. "I want to be able to step out more so I'm not just on the post where they can double team me. Another thing is to play better defense. Being as tall as I am, I just try to block everything. A lot of times I can get away with it, but a lot of times when I jump and they jump they're going to call a foul."
Five-Star Big Man Smith Talks About Hoosiers
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