2017 Clinton (Miss.) big man Galin Smith made his trip over to Baton Rouge for his official visit to LSU and came away impressed with what the Tigers' coaching staff and players showed him over the weekend, which included a trip to LSU's football game against Mississippi State.
His trip included dinner out Friday night, visiting the academic and basketball facilities on Saturday prior to the game and then finished up with breakfast at head coach Johnny Jones' house on Sunday morning.
"I really enjoyed it. I liked it a lot. It was great to hang with the guys and to be on campus. There was always something going on," Smith said. "It feels like a family and the people and the campus in Baton Rouge were just so friendly. They really made me feel pretty comfortable because of how nice the people were."
Jones talked with Smith throughout the visit and while he pushed for a commitment, Smith didn't give him that, but has a lot of respect for Jones.
"He's a great coach and a great person too. He reminds me of a grandad or something. He's just really easy to talk to," Smith said. "I got a really good feeling from it. Of course he expressed how much he wanted me to come along with them in the process. He wanted me to give him that word."
"After this visit, they're high on my priority list. I can say that. They're pretty high. They're very high. They're one of my top schools that I'm considering," Smith said. "Coach Jones and the belief that he has in me and how I can contribute to the program and where he sees me in the system. I saw their plan for how they want to develop me as well."
Another reason the 6-8, 210-pound big man has LSU high on his list is his relationship with assistant coach Robert Kirby.
"He's saying pretty much telling me the same thing as coach Jones. He's telling me I can come in and make an impact right away, which is very important to me as well. That's something I'm going to consider and they've expressed to me that with the team they're having, I can come in right away and compete. I have a great relationship with him."
LSU sees Smith as a versatile threat in the front court and with his athleticism, could play anywhere from two to three positions as he develops.
"The five and the four, but with the development they're going to have me in, they don't want to limit me to any spot. They want me to develop to play the 3 because I'm athletic enough to defend the 3. So I can go there if they want to go big."
LSU had a high-profile player in Ben Simmons, who ended up as the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, but it was Simmons development at LSU that caught Smith's eye.
"That's something that we talked about. Before the college season started, he was No. 3 or No. 4 and then after the season, he ended up going No. 1 so that was a lot about the development they had him in."
As far as the other schools in the mix, Tulane has already gotten a visit from Smith. Alabama is hosting Smith this weekend and UAB is Oct. 2. Memphis is also in the mix according to Smith.
"They've all talked about their plan with me. I'm not going to say I don't have a better relationship with the coach at Alabama than I do at LSU, but like at Tulane, I have a really good relationship with those guys. They're all giving the same things and expressing the same things to me."
Avery Johnson at Alabama conducted an in-home visit recently with Smith and the change in culture for the Alabama program is something Smith likes about how Johnson is going about his job.
"I really like coach Johnson. I haven't talked to him that much. We had an in-home not too long ago. I think he's really trying to change the culture that they had previously at Alabama so that's big."
For UAB and Tulane, relationships with the staff are strong, but the programs offer different positives for Smith to consider.
"I have a pretty good relationship with their (UAB) staff. I talk to everyone. I think they've won two or three championships in a row. That's big for me is winning," Smith said. "With Tulane, they have coach Dunleavy now and he has a lot of NBA experience and knowledge. That's something I've thought about as well."
Smith wants to decide after he takes all of his visits and expects a decision a few days after his last visit to Tulane.