Williams to meet with J.R. Smith today

J.R. Smith's stock has risen perhaps more than any other high school player in the nation over the past month. He has gone from a guy who didn't even get a sniff from NBA personnel to one who has a legitimate chance at a first-round spot in the upcoming draft.

Roy Williams is well aware that he may have to make a sales pitch to get the St. Benedict's (N.J.) swingman to Chapel Hill – and he'll do his best today.

Williams and assistant Steve Robinson will both make the trek to New Jersey to meet with Smith about his upcoming decision.

"It's been like a whirlwind tour for the kid recently," St. Benedict's coach Dan Hurley said. "He just got a chance to get home and talk to his family."

"The meeting with Carolina will be real important to his decision-making process," added Hurley. One NBA general manager likened Smith's athletic ability to that of another Smith – high-flying Josh Smith, a 6-9 wing who is expected to be taken in the top five picks. The same GM also said that it was difficult to get a real good grasp on J.R. Smith in the practices leading up to the All-Star Games, because he wasn't reportedly among those contemplating the decision to go pro. Therefore, most of the NBA types weren't actively watching J.R. Smith – instead opting to concentrate on the other players who had been mentioned as potential candidates to bypass college.

While Smith has been a lifelong North Carolina fan and has dreamed of playing in Chapel Hill, he's also dreamed of playing in the NBA.

However, it'll more than likely come down to the information he receives on where those "in the know" feel he will be selected. Hurley said he has received requests from approximately eight NBA clubs for tape on Smith, so there is clearly plenty of interest after his recent performances in the all-star games.

Smith's riding a wave of momentum from his all-star performances, where his shooting range and athleticism wowed onlookers – but his ultimate spot in the draft would be determined by private workouts in June with teams who will test him on all facets of his game and possibly jeopardize his first-round status.

The deadline to declare for the draft is May 10. In the past, high school prospects that declared (even if they didn't sign an agent), forfeited their college eligibility. Though, that's no longer the case. Last year, Charlie Villanueva declared, worked out with NBA teams, and then chose to attend UConn.

The final day to withdraw one's name from the draft is June 17.


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