Illini Wonk
Monday, November 07, 2005
  Jamar exhibits his potential
If they learned anything from their 82-60 win over Illinois Wesleyan, it might be that Illinois' latest Peoria recruit can shoot the rock. Smith had 16 points against the Titans and he did it on 6 of 9 shooting...3 of 5 from three-point land. Filling in for an ailing Rich McBride, Smith logged 26 minutes and hit some big shots during a decisive run early in the second half.

In a blog post shortly after the game, Mark Tupper professed excitement over Smith's performance in the first of two exhibition games for the Illini. He added:

I love Smith and have to be careful not to go overboard on a true freshman who lacks physical strength and will probably have trouble defending. But this kid is a wonderful shooter, he seems to have great poise and he's a far better athlete than people understand. Bruce Weber said Smith should have been entered in the team's slam dunk contest at the Illini Madness event. He's a fantastic jumper and he plays very hard. I don't know if he should start, but right now, he deserves starter's minutes.
In his story for the Decatur Herald & Review the next day, Tupper said the thin freshman from Peoria Richwoods is going to be getting a heaping helping of playing time on coach Bruce Weber's Illini basketball team.

According to John Supinie, Smith drew comparisons from his coach to a young Luther Head. Supinie concluded that Smith's shooting ability and athleticism will overcome any questions about his defense.

Lindsey Willhite noted in the Daily Herald that Smith impressed Titan coach Scott Trost, who called Smith "a very effective player."

In recent years, the Illinois basketball team has benefited tremendously from the "Peoria Connection," which has seen a string of high school recruits come to the Illini and make meaningful contributions. Could Smith be the latest?
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