Ohio State got the final official visit from Mark Smith, but in the end it didn’t matter.
The four-star point guard prospect from Edwardsville, Illinois, ended his unique recruitment today by announcing at his high school that he is committing to the University of Illinois.
“It had everything I was looking for,” Smith said before turning his back to the crowd and removing a pullover to reveal a white Illinois polo shirt. “(It) gave me the opportunity to be part of the start of something big.”
One year ago, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound guard was planning on playing collegiate baseball until an arm injury put those plans on hiatus. In the meanwhile, Smith’s parents urged him to dive back into basketball, and the decision paid off in a big day. As a senior, Smith was named Illinois Mr. Basketball after averaging 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds.
While he was still considering both sports, Smith took official visits to Michigan State, Northern Illinois, Wright State and Southern Illinois, his mother, Yvonne Smith, told The Dispatch last week. Ohio State offered him a scholarship in mid-February and brought Smith to campus last weekend.
Kaleb Wesson, a signed member of the class of 2017, tweeted at Smith during his visit to encourage him to commit to the program and shared a photoshopped image of the two both in Ohio State uniforms. Wesson is Ohio’s reigning Mr. Basketball.
247Sports ranks Smith as a four-star prospect, the No. 4 prospect in Illinois and the No. 16 point guard in the nation. ESPN ranks him as the No. 6 prospect from Illinois and the No. 22 point guard in the nation, while Rivals lists him as the No. 52 overall prospect in the nation.
In addition to Wesson, the Buckeyes have signed Braxton Beverly, a point guard from Chatham (Virginia) Hargrave Military Academy’s postgraduate team. They have three available scholarships for next season, presuming that redshirt junior guard Kam Williams opts to return after declaring for the NBA draft but not hiring an agent.
The Buckeyes have shown interest in a number of graduate transfer guards who would be eligible this season.