ITV learned early Thursday morning that 6'7, 200 Guard/Forward Donta Smith of SE Illinois C.C. made an unofficial visit to the University of Louisville on Wednesday and SE Illinois Head Coach Todd Franklin confirmed the visit Thursday evening.
According to Franklin, UofL assistant coach Vince Taylor made a visit to SE Illinois in April to watch Smith workout and Coach Pitino called to express his interest about the same time as Taylor's visit.
Smith, one of the nation's top JUCO prospects, was the MVP of the Region XXIV Tournament and was honored on the NJCAA All Tournament team in Hutchinson, KS after leading SE Illinois to the quarterfinals of the national junior college tournament as a freshman. Smith averaged 16 points and 7 rebounds per game last season.
"If he's not the #1 JUCO player in the country next year I don't know who is," said Franklin.
Smith, who hails from Lagrange, KY and attended Oldham County High, was a two sport star at OCHS earning First Team All State honors both on the hardwood and the gridiron as a senior in 2002. Smith averaged 18 points and 12.5 rebounds as a senior and led OCHS to consecutive Sweet 16 appearances and posted 48 points and 14 rebounds in two state tournament games in 2002.
Since turning his full attention and focus to basketball, Smith has blossomed into one of the most explosive and talented forwards in the junior college ranks.
Smith came on big late in the season against top level JUCO competition, scoring 16 against former UofL point guard Carlos Hurt and Wabash CC to claim the Region XXIV Crown with an 83-69 victory. Then in the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Smith had 22 points and 8 rebounds in a first round win over Western (NE) CC and ended the season with a double-double, 15 points, and 15 rebounds in a loss to top ranked Southeastern (IA) CC.
Smith, who played shooting guard as a freshman at SE Illinois, has added 25-30 pounds of muscle since his senior season at OCHS, according to Franklin.
At the NJCAA Tournament in March, Adam Miller of nbadraftreport.com called Smith, "Clearly the best NBA prospect in the [NJCAA] tournament." Miller added, "He's a true 6-7 wing player that has at least a 34 inch vertical….He can shoot outside, score in the paint, rebound, and is very agile. He was the best player on a team that got seventh, when they should have been second or third."
Smith is an explosive, multi-skilled athlete on the wing who flourishes in transition and often finishes with thunderous dunks on the break. Smith is effective going into the paint and battling on the boards and also has the versatility to step out on the perimeter and knock down the three point shot.
Donta will take part in Rick Ball's invitation only Top 40 JUCO camp in Indianapolis in July and will also play in the BallStars camp at Vincennes CC.
Smith lists Louisville, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Minnesota, Mississippi State and Cincinnati.