J.R. Smith enters NBA draft

As <i>Inside Carolina</i> reported to be likely last month, high school senior and UNC signee J.R. Smith has decided to put his name into the NBA draft. He has decided not to hire an agent, so he will be able to pay his own way to the pre-draft camps and pull his name out on or before June 17 if he chooses.

Inside Carolina caught up with JR Smith's mother, Ida, at her New Jersey residence on Friday evening and confirmed that her son has set a press conference. Also learned during the brief conversation was that her son has received a guarantee from at least one NBA team, that he will be drafted in the first round of the upcoming 2004 NBA Draft.

Smith wouldn't confirm her son's intentions, but the writing on the wall is that the 6-7 sky walker will not enroll at UNC this fall.

"I personally never thought he could get drafted right out of high school," she said. "But when we saw Travis Outlaw get drafted in the first round last year, we just knew he had a chance. JR's dream, ever since he was three years old was to get drafted into the NBA."

The St. Benedict's Prep forward has garnered much attention since his tremendous performance in the McDonald's All-American game. After that MVP effort on the part of Smith, St. Benedict's coach Danny Hurley began fielding calls from various NBA teams who wanted more video tapes of the All American.

"We had heard that he'd be guaranteed a second round pick before that game," said Smith, "but when (NBA scouts) started hearing that he was interested in coming out this year, everything got moved up."

Smith will formally announce his intentions on whether he will attend UNC or head to the NBA Draft at a Monday press conference at his school. The time is not set in stone yet -- but Smith implied that her son would step up to the podium by 3pm EST.

According to Smith, her son has not told the UNC staff of his final plans just yet, but she says that the staff has given their blessings to her son on whatever decision that he makes.

"Actually, when I called him (when he was in Texas). He was standing right next to Coach Williams. He said that Coach Williams told him that they'd love to have him at Carolina next year, but that they would support him no matter what decision that he makes."

And it's beginning to look more and more like Smith will head to the NBA Draft.

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