Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
One day after being visited in a helicopter by N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried, point guard Dennis Smith Jr. committed to the Wolfpack.
Gottfried also met with Smith Jr.’s mother.
The 6-foot-2 floor general out of Fayetteville (N.C.) Trinity Christian recently cut his list to six schools — Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, N.C. State, Wake Forest and North Carolina.
“Growing up an NC State fan I knew they would be one of my top schools,” Smith Jr. told ESPN.com. “Coach Gottfried made me a priority, showing up, sitting in front to all my games in the live periods. That loyalty meant a lot to me. After giving the decision a lot of thought we all felt State was the best situation for me.”
Smith Jr. is rated No. 4 in the 2016 ESPN 100 and is projected as the No. 3 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.com, meaning he may not be at N.C. State for long.
The addition of Smith Jr. is the latest coup for Gottfried, who previously got 6-6 shooter Maverick Rowanto reclass to 2015 and commit to the Wolfpack over St. John’s and Louisville.
Smith Jr. had been linked to Duke, but the Blue Devils recently landed 2016 point guard Frank Jackson, seemingly taking them out of the mix for Smith Jr. Kentucky still needs a point guard in the Class of 2016 and is involved with several guards, including De’Aaron Fox,Malik Monk, Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins.
The Gatorade Player of the Year in North Carolina, Smith Jr. is out with a torn ACL that is expected to keep him sidelined 6-9 months.
“My recovery is going great,” Smith told ESPN.com. “Actually it’s going a little faster than expected. I just went from walking with two crutches to walking with one crutch and my knee is starting to bend … I am excited.”
Of course, Smith Jr. has also been linked to a package with Edrice “Bam” Adebayo headed to N.C. State and he told ESPN he planned to call Bam straight away.
“My first call is going to be to Bam Adebayo and get him on board,” Smith said.
Gottfried and his staff also visited Adebayo on Wednesday and the 6-10 big man was impressed. Kevin Graves, who coached Adebayo on the AAU circuit this summer, said Adebayo wasn’t close to deciding however.
“No, man,” Graves said. “You can’t even get Bam to talk about recruiting. I’m serious. He’s just trying to be a kid right now.
“He doesn’t have any visits. The kid is just concentrating on school and getting in the gym and getting his work in.”
Meantime, Gottfried had a home visit Thursday evening with 6-10 center Udoka Azubuike of Jacksonville (FL) Potters House Christian, a source confirmed to SNY.tv. The big man is also being courted by Kentucky, Kansas and others.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.