After contemplating whether to commit to his dream school for the past month after a long-awaited scholarship offer had finally been tendered, St. Benedict's (N.J.) 6-5, 215-pound senior swingman J.R. Smith finally committed to North Carolina.
"I was ready, my family was ready, Jimmy (Salmon) was ready and Coach (Dan) Hurley was ready," Smith said. "It was a dream come true for me."
"I just wanted to finally get it over with," he added.
Smith initially called Tar Heels coach Roy Williams on Wednesday night, but the UNC head man was in Puerto Rico and returned the call at about 2 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.
"He spoke to Coach Williams while he was in Puerto Rico," Hurley said. "A couple of schools made it really hard on the kid, but going to Carolina was the reason he transferred here in the first place."
"He wanted to get his academics in order and be good enough to play at Carolina," added Hurley. "Now he's realized the goal he set for himself."
Smith, who gave up football when he left Lakewood High (N.J.) to transfer to St. Benedict's prior to last season, said that the holdup for the past few weeks was because he was debating on whether he'd receive more immediate playing time elsewhere. However, he felt that Chapel Hill was the place for him in the end.
"What it all boiled down to is that off the court, I knew I was going to be happy at Carolina," Smith added.
Smith, whose real name is Earl, averaged 17.8 points and five rebounds last season and really burst onto the scene more than a year ago at the ABCD Camp in New Jersey. Smith had scheduled an official visit to Pittsburgh for Sept. 5 and was slated to visit Chapel Hill a week later, but he didn't feel the need to take his official visits in order to make a decision after all.
This is a huge pickup for the UNC staff, especially after another elite recruit, forward Marvin Williams, committed to the Tar Heels earlier this summer, along with JamesOn Curry who committed to UNC prior to the coaching change. Now the Tar Heels will focus their efforts on landing point guard Shaun Livingston in case Raymond Felton opts to leave after this season for the NBA.
Look back on J.R. Smith's recruitment, with the most comprehensive coverage on the net, including endless photo galleries, scouting reports, interviews, etc. ... IC's J.R. Smith Profile