Monday, March 30, 2009

Smith: Huskies Are "We" Now

Darius Smith has yet to visit the UConn campus, but he hopes to soon.

“Hopefully, after we win the title,” Smith said on Monday.

Smith can refer to the Huskies as “we,” because the 6-foot-2 combo guard out of Chicago has made a verbal commitment to UConn.

“Their coaching style and their playing style – it all just took me in,” said Smith, a senior at Marshall Metropolitan High. “They get up and down the court, and I’m that type of guy.”

UConn assistant coach Patrick Sellers was the lead man in Smith’s recruitment, making visits to see him play when the Huskies were in Milwaukee to play Marquette, among several other times.

“I thought he had a house out here,” Smith joked. “The little things Coach Sellers was doing: he’d come up to talk to me, or when he couldn’t even talk to me. His presence was felt.”

In addition to UConn, Smith was heavily recruited by Marquette, Cincinnati, Arizona State, Memphis, UCLA, Duke, Indiana and Missouri. His final five schools were Arizona State, Cincinnati, Duke, Memphis and UConn.

Allegations of illegal recruiting surrounding the UConn program were no bother to Smith. He said he’s comfortable that UConn won’t receive any harsh penalties.

Smith, who is ranked as the No. 21 shooting guard in the nation for his class by scout.com, averaged 23 points per game this season. He’s equally adept at point guard and shooting guard, but will likely be asked to fill the latter role at UConn. With Kemba Walker, the Huskies are pretty well set at the point.

“Whatever they need from him to win,” said Henry Cotton, Smith’s coach at Metropolitan Marshall who Smith refers to as “dad.” (Cotton and Smith’s mother, Sharon, are good friends).

“He’s a good defender,” Cotton added. “His defense creates his offense. He can create plays for himself and for others, that’s why he chose UConn. (And) you have to defend his shot at all times.”

Both Cotton and Smith said that Smith is already an academic qualifier. Smith said he wants to major in architecture.

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