Smith favoring Pitino's Cardinals

While fellow North Carolina recruit Brian Johnson is concerned whether the new coaching staff in Chapel Hill will hold him in high esteem, J.R. Smith isn't worried.

"I'm one of the most highly recruited people in the country and I figure whoever they bring in will give me a chance," said the St Benedict's (N.J.) star.

The 6-5, 215-pound Smith, a diehard Michael Jordan and UNC fan, once had the Tar Heels far atop his list of favorites. However, that changed in a split-second when Louisville's Rick Pitino came to watch him play last year.

"Me and my father have been talking about how Pitino is the best coach in college basketball right now," added Smith, who is good friends with fellow New Jersey native Taquan Dean, a freshman under Pitino this season.

It's also hasn't hurt that Pitino and his staff have offered Smith a scholarship already while Smith's other contenders, UNC and Duke, have an academic stipulation that goes along with their offer.

"It's definitely been hard because Carolina is always where I wanted to go," he said. "But now I realize that it might not be the best place for me."

Smith said he found out about Matt Doherty's departure on ESPN and hasn't been contacted by any of the former Tar Heels coaches since.

"I thought he was going to get fired, but I didn't think he'd leave," Smith said. "North Carolina is still in it, but Louisville is definitely the leader right now."

Smith said that he was recently contemplating about whether to make his college decision at ABCD Camp, but now he's thinking that may be too soon.

Smith, who erupted last year during the middle of the summer when he displayed an aggressiveness not seen before, will once again play with the Tim Thomas Playaz. However, this season the Playaz don't have the size they had a year ago, so Smith will have to become a primary rebounder and more physical player.

"We're the fastest team in the country," he said. "No one can run with us. We're going to try and keep running teams into the ground."

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Check out IC's J.R. Smith profile.


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