J.R. Smith's Recruitment "Put on Hold"

St. Benedict's (NJ) Small Forward J.R. Smith has recently been considered a heavy lean to Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals, but is that still the case?

"I would say that I'm open right now," Smith told StateFans. "I've actually put my recruitment on hold because I want to concentrate on helping my AAU team (Tim Thomas Playaz) win more games and tournaments. I've been worrying about colleges too much and I just want to play ball right now."

J.R. is considered one of the nation's elite Small Forward prospects, combining terrific athleticism with a college-ready body. This has helped him excel on the AAU circuit.

"I'm doing pretty good, but my team's been doing great. We won the Southern Tournament in Virginia, and I thought it was a great tournament. Some people say it's not that big of a tournament, but I think it is. I like the atmosphere in that area."

With his recruitment at an apparent standstill, what schools have been showing the most interest in Smith?

"Louisville, N.C. State, Pitt, Villanova, Seton Hall and all of them have offered. Also, UNC has called recently. They are going to start evaluating me more this summer."

StateFans analyst Jeff Goodman notes that Smith has made tremendous improvements in his game over the past year.

"J.R. Smith is clearly one of the top athletes in the entire country," Goodman said. "Once strictly a perimeter shooter and a mid-major basketball recruit as recently as a year ago, Smith has gained confidence and aggressiveness and has improved his penetration abilibity dramatically over the past year."

"At 6-5, Smith has terrific range and can also dunk over people. His understanding of the game has also improved under Dan Hurley at St. Benedict's and his decision to give up football and focus exclusively on basketball has obviously paid off, since the likes of Louisville, UNC and Duke have all expressed significant interest."

Although his college selection process has stalled, J.R. still plans on making a few unofficial and official visits over the next month.

"I'm visiting Louisville at the end of this month," he said. "Also, I'm going to take unofficial visits to N.C. State, Duke, and Carolina when I'm down there for the Bob Gibbons Tournament."

Sources have said that N.C. State's made a considerable impression on the New Jersey standout over the past month, and it's obvious that he's high on the Wolfpack.

"N.C. State's a great team. I love their style of play, and I think my game would fit in well there. They play in the ACC and that's one of the top conferences. Also, I like how Coach [Sendek] developed Julius Hodge as a player."


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