Catching up with USC commitment Eric Smith

The South Carolina coaching staff is looking to sign a big 2010 class as they will lose several key components at the conclusion of the upcoming season. So far, the Gamecocks have landed one commitment, and caught up with the in-state guard from Mullins High.

There's not much going on in the small town of Mullins, S.C., but stored away is a talented 6-foot guard that's looking to make his mark. After leading Mullins High to the South Carolina Class-AA state championship game in his junior year, Eric Smith has enjoyed his first summer as a committed man.

"I feel like I don't put too much pressure on myself (now that I'm committed), but I have a lot of people coming after me," Smith said. "When someone is coming at me, that makes me play a whole lot harder to show them that I'm good.

"It relieves a lot of (pressure), you can just concentrate on just playing basketball and trying to get better and trying to win a title for your basketball team."

According to Smith's dad, Steve, Eric averaged 20.1 points, 7.6 assists, 2 steals, and shot 81 percent from the free-throw line and 38.9 percent from the 3-point line last year. Smith also reached a plateau, where he scored his 1,500th career point in the state championship against Southside.

Smith has taken that momentum from the season and spoke about the summer.

"It's been going alright," he said. "I started out playing with the Charlotte Royals, but that didn't turn out too well. Now I'm playing with the Carolina Celtics, and I had a lot of fun with them. I felt like I could play better with them because of the way the coach lets us play with them."

With the Celtics being a South Carolina-based AAU team, the elder Smith admits that logistically it just makes sense for his son. The upcoming schedule for Eric Smith is a busy one in the month of July.

"We're going to the Port City Classic, Peach State and then we're going to the Nationals and the Super Showcase in Orlando (Fla.)," he said. In between his busy summer, Eric Smith still made time to get on the South Carolina campus and play with some of his future teammates.

"I know Lakeem (Jackson) pretty well, I played with them when I was down (at South Carolina) about three weeks ago."

Along with working out with the Gamecock family, Smith has worked with someone he idolized growing up, despite him being a former Tar Heel — All-American guard Raymond Felton.

Felton played for Steve Smith at Latta High where he led the school to back to back Class-A state titles in 2001 and 2002. Felton owns the state record for most points in a championship game — 45.

"They are different, but they are similar. Raymond has obviously made his mark, and Eric is trying to get there," Steve Smith said. "Eric looks up to Raymond. Eric helped with Raymond's camp last week, and they were going at it for about an hour.

"He really idolizes him, and he's supposed to be working out with him at the end of the summer. Raymond invited him up to his house where he can do some work with him. Raymond works out religiously."

Along with working out with Felton, who just extended his contract with the Charlotte Bobcats, the younger Smith works with his dad as well.

"If we can get in the gym, we're going to do some work," Steve Smith said. "I tell him all the time that there are a lot of kids that have a lot of talent, so whoever works the hardest is going to get it."

"I feel like, when people see me, they see someone that is pretty good," Eric Smith said. "If they see that I'm going to South Carolina, then they think I must be pretty good, so I have to show them."

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