Pitino will get his chance this weekend to convince Smith, Scout.com's No. 42 ranked prospect, that following in Dean's footsteps would be his best move. Smith, who will arrive in Louisville this Friday, will make an official visit to U of L this weekend.
"That will leave a combo position vacant in their backcourt, and coach Pitino says he's recruiting Jerry to replace Taquan Dean," Smith's father, Jerry Sr., said Monday night.
Smith, who averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists as a junior, made an unofficial visit to U of L last month with both his mother and father. He's already officially visited Wake Forest and Wisconsin this spring, and he'll make this trip to Louisville without parental guidance.
"We're calling coach Pitino tonight to finalize plans for Jerry's visit this weekend," said Smith. "Jerry will be coming alone this time because his mother and I have already seen the campus during our last visit."
Last week, a Milwaukee newspaper incorrectly reported that Smith had eliminated Louisville, and was set to announce his decision following his official visit to Wisconsin. However, according to Smith's father, the 6-foot-3 guard simply wasn't ready to make a decision.
Can U of L sign both Smith and
Following his trip to Louisville, Smith's father said his son plans to visit Tennessee June 3-5, and that Connecticut, Iowa, and Texas A & M are vying for his fifth and final official visit. In other words, the Cardinals – and their fans – shouldn't be expecting a decision this weekend.
"I doubt (he'll commit this weekend) because he's got another visit already scheduled," Smith said. "Once he gets back, we'll sit down and talk about the things that he liked, and the things he didn't like."
When asked if a leader has emerged, Smith couldn't give a definitive answer. "It's tough to say."
And while Smith couldn't pin down a leader, it was clear that Louisville has several things working in its favor.
"Coach Pitino is a great motivator and a great coach, and we've got relatives that live in Louisville," Smith said of the Cardinals' appeal. "And they're going to the Big East. Plus, coach Pitino's style would fit Jerry because he likes to play up-tempo and make plays. And coach Pitino allows his players the freedom to make plays, and that's how Jerry plays his best."
U of L's facilities, particularly Minardi Hall, also help the Cardinals' cause.
"Gorgeous," Smith said when asked about his impressions of U of L's campus. "They're facilities are better than any we've seen so far."
While there are several things on the positive side of the ledger for the Cardinals, Pitino's going to have to overcome one potential roadblock in landing Smith – Edgar Sosa, a talented guard from New York who gave a verbal commitment to Pitino last week.
"They just signed a kid (Edgar Sosa), and Jerry has some questions about how he would fit in," Smith said. "Coach Pitino can be quite persuasive, though. Jerry's not concerned or afraid of competing with Sosa. He's a competitor."
Smith also cleared up his family's relationship with former U of L great Darrell Griffith. In the past, Inside The Ville has reported that Smith is a blood relative of Griffith's. While that's not quite the case, a close bond definitely exists.
"My aunt used to live close to Darrell Griffith and watched him when he was younger," Smith explained. "We've known his family for several years. You could say we're close family friends."
The fact that Smith has family and friends in Louisville certainly benefits the Cards, and his father says the distance from Milwaukee to Louisville won't factor into his son's decision.
"It's only a six-hour drive from here to Louisville," said Smith. "Distance absolutely won't be a factor."
Smith's AAU team – Wisconsin Playground Warriors - will play at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions next weekend in North Carolina. However, Smith won't be able to help them.
"Jerry's on the I.R. right now," Smith said. "He fell on his tailbone three weeks ago in Chicago and has been out since. He'll be out for a while. He can work out, but he can't play."
Smith said his son would likely make a decision by mid-June. He'll attend the Nike All-America camp in Indianapolis this July.