LAS VEGAS -- As the nation's top-rated point guard, Dennis Smith is a marked man during the final July live evaluation period. Going head-to-head against some of the best point guards in the country this week, Smith has fared very well. And North Carolina coaches have been in attendance for all of Team Loaded NC's games.
The 6-foot-2 Smith recently cut his list to North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, N.C. State and Wake Forest and the decision to form a list became easy when Smith wanted to have more free time during the summer.
"It was getting hectic after awhile, so I had to really sit down with my father and make a decision about which schools I want to keep on the list so I could kind of relax a little bit for the summer. Not so many phone calls and things like that," Smith said.
North Carolina made the cut on Smith's list in-part because of proximity and in-part because of his relationship with the coaches and players. Recently, Smith visited campus and played pick-up ball with the current roster, bringing fellow UNC guard target Seventh Woods with him in the process.
"I had a good time. Me and Seventh went at the same time. We got to play pick-up with the guys and see what the guards were like and some of the other players," Smith said. "Some of the other players were hurt like Kennedy Meeks and Nate Britt, they didn't play. Everybody else was pretty cool. We talked to Coach Williams afterwards."
Much has been made about Smith and the possibility of him playing in college with players like Woods or AAU teammate Edrice "Bam" Adebayo. Smith downplayed the talk of package deals, as he's intent on making a decision that's right for him.
"If you ask me if I'm going to school with anyone I'm going to say its 50/50," Smith said. "I'm going to go wherever is best for me, first and foremost. But that might not be the best situation for that other person."
Since Smith is trying to compete for one of the top spots in the Class of 2016 this July - and hold his spot as the top-ranked point guard - recruiting has taken a bit of a backseat for now. After cutting his list, Smith has tried to keep some distance between himself and the coaches recruiting him so that he can focus on his play this month.
"I told them that this month I'm just focused on AAU. Anything else dealing with my recruitment, that will be dealt with after the (AAU) season is over," Smith said.
With recruiting in the background for at least the next week, Smith hasn't spoken to schools about his potential upcoming official visits, although he acknowledged that he would probably take official visits to the out-of-state schools on his list: Kentucky and Louisville.
Until he decides to focus more on recruiting, Smith is excited about the opportunity to play on the AAU circuit for the last time. He's hoping to close out the summer with a title at the adidas Uprising Summer Championships.
"I'm not really focused on anything but winning, to be honest. I'll take the open shot, make the extra pass, whatever it takes to win," Smith said.
So far in Las Vegas, Smith has put together some strong efforts, scoring 26 points and dishing four assists in a head-to-head battle with five-star guard Frank Jackson in a win over the Utah Prospects. In an opening-night tilt with five-star guard Lonzo Ball, Smith went for 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field and eight assists. Through 40 minutes of play at the adidas event, Smith has committed only one turnover.
Dennis Smith Not Backing Down
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