IU offers 2017 Illinois guard

IU Coach Tom Crean is looking to add another player to his 2017 recruiting class after extending an offer to an Illinois guard on Thursday.

Mark Smith, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound guard out of Edwardsville, Illinois, picked up his eighth Division I offer from the Hoosiers just two weeks after Crean watched him play for the first time.

“I’ve looked into Indiana a little bit because I’ve watched them on TV a lot,” Smith said. “It’s always exciting, you know, to get an offer from a school as big as Indiana. Yeah, two weeks it was short, but it was exciting because Coach Crean liked my game.”

Unlike the three other high school seniors already committed to IU for next season, Smith was never in the national recruiting spotlight. He scored 32 points in the game Crean attended and is considered a late riser in the class of 2017 because he hasn’t always been focused on playing college 

Smith originally committed to play baseball at Missouri after his sophomore year, but once Missouri’s head coach left, Smith turned his attention toward basketball. He said he likes flying under the radar in the recruiting class.

“Yeah I like that, you know, being the sleeper,” Smith said. “But it really doesn’t matter to me. I just try to go out there and get better every day and play to win.”

Early on in the basketball recruiting process Smith said he landed offers from mid-major schools such as Northern Illinois, Wright State and SIU-Edwardsville. Major conference schools didn’t start getting involved until about a month and a half ago when Illinois Coach John Groce watched Smith play. Since then he’s picked up offers from Illinois and Kansas State in addition to the 
newest offer from IU.

At the moment, IU has three players signed in the 2017 class with four-star forward Justin Smith leading the way and three-star forward Clifton Moore and guard Al Durham rounding out the class. The Hoosiers are still awaiting the decision of four-star forward Jordan Tucker, who will choose between IU, Villanova and Oregon.

Smith has led Edwardsville High School to a 19-1 record this season and most recently a No. 25 ranking in the USA Today high school basketball super 25 expert rankings. Right now he’s focused on capturing the first basketball state championship in Edwardsville High School history.

According to stlhighschoolsports.com, Smith is averaging 22.7 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game. If his team advances deep into the Illinois state tournament this season, Smith will find himself competing against some of the top competition from the Chicago area. He said he hopes his play will stand out if Edwardsville goes deep into the state tournament so people see him as a player who can be reliable next 
season in college.

“When we play those Chicago teams, you know those Chicago teams have a lot of good players,” Smith said. “Hopefully people will see that I can play at the next level and be an impact player, so yeah, hopefully they’ll think my performance will standout when we play those games.”

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