College Sports

Former Edwardsville, Illinois basketball player Smith transfers to Missouri

Edwardsville High School graduate Mark Smith, who transferred from Illinois at the end of the season, has transferred to Missouri.
Edwardsville High School graduate Mark Smith, who transferred from Illinois at the end of the season, has transferred to Missouri. AP

Mark Smith, the former Edwardsville High School basketball star who played one season at the University of Illinois, announced Saturday night on Twitter that he has committed to the Missouri Tigers.

Smith left the Illini on March 5 after playing there just one season. He explained that he "didn't fit the system" at Illinois, where he averaged 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.6 steals. He took an official visit to Missouri on Saturday, then quickly made a decision to join the Tigers and coach Cuonzo Martin, an East St. Louis native.

Smith will be eligible to play for Missouri in the 2019-20 season. He has three years of eligibility remaining. The Tigers were 20-13 this season, Martin's first as coach.

The 6-foot-4 Smith originally committed to Missouri to play baseball, but he decommitted and signed to play basketball at Illinois after an incredible senior season at Edwardsville in which he averaged 21.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 8.4 assists and 2.1 steals.

Smith was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois, Illinois' Mr. Basketball and the Belleville News-Democrat's Large-School Player of the Year as a senior. He selected Illinois over Michigan State, Kentucky and Ohio State, although he had dozens of other top-tier offers.

At Missouri, Smith will become teammates with two former Southwestern Conference rivals: East St. Louis' Jeremiah Tilmon and Belleville East's Javon Pickett.

Smith started 16 of the Illini's first 17 games, and scored in double figures in four of his first five games, including a season-high 21 points in an 82-73 win over visiting DePaul on Nov. 17.

Smith scored 17 points in an 82-69 victory at UNLV on Dec. 10, and had 11 points in the Braggin' Rights win over Missouri on Dec. 23. Smith's final start game Jan. 24 when he had two points in a come-from-behind 73-71 victory over visiting Indiana. He scored no more than eight points in his final 17 games as his playing time was greatly reduced.

Illinois finished 14-18 overall and 4-14 in the Big Ten. In addition to Smith, the Illini have lose three other players off their roster from last season: Leron Black, Michael Finke and Te'Jon Lucas.

The Illini have added six players for next season: Ayo Dosunmu, a 6-5 five-star guard from Morgan Park; Andres Feliz, a 6-2 guard from Northwest Florida State; Giorgi Bezhanishvili, a 6-9 forward from Austria; Samba Kane, a 7-0 center from Florida Prep Academy; Alan Griffin, a 6-5 native of Chicago who played at Archbishop Stepinac in New York; and Tevian Jones, a 6-6 four-star forward from Culver City, Calif.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665; @DavidMWilhelm
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