TOC: J.R. Smith - Quotes and Photos

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – J.R. Smith wants to be a Tar Heel, and that's music to the ears of the UNC faithful who watched his terrific performances this weekend.

Smith put together a number of excellent showings this weekend at the Tournament of Champions, justifying the hype and high ranking.

He drained threes, slashed to the hoop, soared for spectacular dunks and played suffocating pressure defense.

And he is very competitive, as evidenced by the despondent look on his face as he sat for minutes on the court after the final buzzer sounded in his team's Saturday afternoon loss.

"Every loss is hard, especially when you lose a close game like that," he said postgame. I'd rather get blown out than lose a game like that."

When prompted for a school list, Smith mentioned UNC, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Villanova. A phone call last week from Roy Williams to Smith's head coach at St. Benedict's (N.J.) re-entered Carolina into the recruitment race.

And Smith doesn't hesitate to admit that North Carolina is where he wants to go. In fact, he's thrilled to even get the chance to play on the Smith Center court this weekend.

"It's a great feeling playing at a great University on the North Carolina floor," he said. "Most people don't even get to see it in person and we're playing on it, so it's a great feeling.

But if he has any hopes of getting offered by the Tar Heels, he's going to need to qualify -- and he's not there yet.

"I still have to take two summer courses to get my core straight, but I think I'll be all right," Smith said.

by Jim Hawkins

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