Illinois Basketball: Offering Mark Smith a Scholarship is Huge for the Illini


The Illinois basketball team needs to add a player to the class of 2017 that can do everything on the basketball court.

Right now, the Illini really do not have that type of player that can bring those skills while also bringing energy to the game.

I believe this could be solved with recruiting, offering, and playing Mark Smith.

Smith just got finished leading his Edwardsville team to four straight wins and a championship in the Collinsville Prairie Farms Holiday Classic tournament.

In the first three games, Smith dominated on the court.  He averaged 18.6 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game.  This production propelled Edwardsville to the title game against Althoff.

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On Friday, Edwardsville and Althoff met in a highly anticipated championship game and they didn’t disappoint.

This big matchup featured a former Illinois basketball target Jordan Goodwin against current Illini target Smith.

At the end of the first half, the score read 42-34 in favor of Edwardsville.  Smith had 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The second half was just as good as the first.  Althoff kept up with Edwardsville but couldn’t get over the hump and fell 83-75.

Smith finished the game with 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists.

I am not going to lie, when Illinois lost Goodwin to Saint Louis in a tough recruiting battle it hurt me.  He is going to be a really good player at the college level and I wanted the Illini to be the beneficiaries.

But, this was one of the few recruiting losses for John Groce in 2017.  Illinois still has a top 10 recruiting class and have one more scholarship available.

That is when Smith emerged as a possible candidate for the Illini.

This tournament did wonders for my opinion on whether or not I want Smith to fill that final spot.

Smith dominated in his first three games of this tournament and then when the lights were shining brightest he performed his best.

I am absolutely impressed with Smith.  He can score, distribute, and rebound and the Illini need a player like this in 2017.

Next: Illini Recruits Dominating Prairie Farms Classic

I am excited that Groce offered Smith a scholarship last night because he is going to be a superstar.  This would be a huge commitment for the Illini and one that will help them win in the future.