Hoosiers In a Battle for a Warrior

Bloomington – Chicago isn't necessarily an ideal getaway this time of year, but a steady stream of college basketball coaches have been headed to the Windy City in recent months. The purpose of their journeys has generally been the same - to see one of the best players still available in the '09 class...

Bloomington – Chicago isn't necessarily an ideal getaway this time of year, but a steady stream of college basketball coaches have been headed to the Windy City in recent months.

The purpose of their journeys has generally been the same – to take an up-close look at one of the best players still available in the 2009 recruiting class, Marshall H.S. senior guard Darius Smith. The 6'2", 180-pounder is Scout.com's 21st ranked shooting guard nationally, making him the highest-ranked player at his position who remains unsigned.

According to Marshall H.S. Coach Henry Cotton there's been no shortage of interest in Smith this spring as teams look to fill needs on next year's rosters.

"You name a conference there are at least three schools in each conference with scholarships available that are involved with him now," said Cotton. "He's basically turned everyone's head here in the state and in the country."

One of the things that so many coaches like about Smith is the variety of needs that he can fill. While he's among the city's top scorers at around 20 points per game, Cotton counts on him to add eight rebounds, eight assists and a couple of steals and blocks to his stat line on a nightly basis.

"He's a warrior," Cotton said. "We call him Mr. Stats, because he's going to fill up the stat sheet and put something in every category. Most players put something in rebounds and points. He's going to go out and rebound, score, have a lot of assists, steals and blocks. He fills it up."

Smith has also stepped to the forefront as a senior after playing alongside some very good players and on some very good teams in each of his first three years. Chicago Marshall has been to state in each of the past three seasons, including wining the state title in 2008. Among the players he's played with during his career are Patrick Beverley (played at Arkansas), Mike Stovall (Oregon State), Darrius Gaters (Northern Illinois) and Ryan Hare (Southern Illinois).

"It was about him waiting his turn," Cotton said. "He waited his four years to get his recognition. He put in the time to develop into the type of player that he is."

That's the type of player that everyone is looking for this spring, Indiana included. Cotton said the Hoosiers have offered Smith a scholarship and have made their interest well known.

"They've shown a lot of interest," Cotton said. "While NCAA rules limit the amount they can call him, they can contact me at any time and I get my share of calls. We can also call them, the ones that (Darius) is interested in."

Rumors had circulated last week that Smith was actually going to visit IU over the weekend for the Hoosiers' match-up against Illinois. That visit didn't happen, and Cotton said Smith won't be taking any visits until after his season wraps up. The Illinois state tournament gets underway in approximately a week and a half, and Marshall H.S. (17-7) is looking to defend its state championship.

Once Marshall's state playoff run concludes, Smith should move fairly quickly in whittling down a long list of potential destinations.

"He's going to do that toward the end of this month and March, right when the season wraps up and he can start taking official visits," Cotton said. "Right now with the season going on he can't take any officials, so it's a matter of keeping up with who is showing the interest and how the conversations are going with them. Later, we will get a chance to get out and meet with them and talk to them."


Peegs.com Top Stories