The Recruitment Is Over
Well, Jerry Smith decided last Thursday that he was going to attend Louisville for college, putting an end to years of anticipation. I suppose it would be derelict for me not to weigh in, given how much I’ve watched him play over the last three years, and given that I am a fan of his current high school team, as well as the Wisconsin Badgers, a school that lost out on Mr. Smith’s services. However, I don’t feel like I can say much that’s very provocative on this issue, so if you’re looking for controversy, look elsewhere.
My first reaction upon hearing that Jerry Smith was going to Louisville? Selfish disappointment. I had been hoping not only to watch him help the Badgers out, but to continue to have the chance to watch him play regularly. After all, I have seen him play quite a bit, and could have annoyingly said things to my friends like “Michigan State’s doing the best job defending Smith since I saw Middleton slow him down with their 2-3 zone back when he was a freshman in high school” for another four years had Smith ended up in Madison. As it stands, I’ll probably get to see a fair amount of him, given that Marquette and Louisville are conference rivals, but it won’t be the same having to cheer against him when he comes to town. Based on everything that I’ve heard about the kid as a person, he’s a fun guy to root for. And his game has been fun to watch develop so far.
Aside from the selfish disappointment, I can’t fault the end decision at all, though. Whenever I watch a huge basketball prospect struggle to decide where to go to school, I think back to my own struggle with choosing a college. It wasn’t an easy decision for me, and I was lucky enough to have lacked any discernable skills to make the local and national media cover my every move from 8th grade on. Is Smith’s decision the decision that I would have made? Probably not (to this outsider, Wake looks mighty nice), but I also don’t know as much about the situations at each school as he does, and I’m not 17. Heck, when I applied to schools at age 17, half of my six applications went to places where I’d be able to watch good basketball. I applied to another school largely because I met an attractive girl who wanted to go there. I ended up choosing a school whose campus I had basically never been to, with the exception of attending two football games there. So yeah, I doubt that I’m the guy to criticize Jerry Smith’s decision-making process. And the point that I always come back to in the end is that he didn’t have a single bad option to choose (as he was not recruited by Cincinnati). I expect that he’ll thrive at Louisville, just as he would have at Wisconsin, or at Wake Forest.
As for Wisconsin, they’ll be fine. Losing out on a Jerry Smith hurts, but they’ve still got plenty of time to get someone almost as good. Hopefully that someone will be Trevon Hughes of St. John’s Military Academy, as he appears to be the best talent available now, and it’s always good to keep the excellent in-state guys. But if it’s not, things will still work themselves out.
Meanwhile, I’ve got another season of high school ball to watch Smith and Hughes. With that in mind, if anyone would like to sell me an advance ticket to the Milwaukee King-Tosa East game next March, I’d be happy to buy.