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Mark Smith Picks Illinois Over Michigan State And Kentucky For Some Reason

Mark Smith dons an Illinois hat and shirt as he makes his commitment official Wednesday night. (Screenshot courtesy IllinoisHomePage.net)
Mark Smith dons an Illinois hat and shirt as he makes his commitment official Wednesday night. (Screenshot courtesy IllinoisHomePage.net)

Highly sought-after basketball recruit Mark Smith on Wednesday announced he will play collegiately for the Fighting Illini, spurning offers from Michigan State and Kentucky.

The 6-foot-5 guard is the reigning Illinois Mr. Basketball and is rated among the best in the nation. 247Sports ranks Smith as the No. 74 overall player and the 16th-best point guard in the 2017 recruiting class.

He’s only considered a four-star recruit, but scouts say his talent is blue chip level. Smith had originally planned on playing college baseball for Missouri, so he missed more exposure on the AAU basketball circuit, which likely explains his four-star rating.

Smith averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds his senior year at Edwardsville, Ill. High School. He chose Illinois and first-year coach Brad Underwood (fresh from Oklahoma State) over Tom Izzo’s Spartans and John Calipari’s Wildcats, both of whom figure to be favorites for the 2018 national championship.

Illinois hasn’t made an NCAA tournament appearance since 2013.

For MSU, it’s the second miss on a high-profile recruit in as many days. On Tuesday, five-star McDonald’s All-American center Brandon McCoy spurned the Spartans for UNLV.

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