May 18, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS — Dennis Smith, Jr. has recently made waves on the national recruiting scene thanks to his tremendous play in the adidas Gauntlet.
The 6-foot-2 Smith is regarded by Rivals.com as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2016 national rankings, but his recruitment was still rather quiet for a five-star prospect heading into the spring.
That’s all changed in the last few weeks, however, as Smith had a great weekend at the Dallas stop of the Gauntlet during the live period in front of college coaches.
Smith told NBCSports.com that he’s picked up scholarship offers from Charlotte, Kansas, N.C. State, VCU and Wake Forest with recent interest this spring from Arizona, Duke, Louisville, Michigan and North Carolina.
With explosive athleticism, good court vision and an ability to get in the lane at will, Smith has drawn comparisons to past North Carolina natives like John Wall and Rodney Purvis. Smith told NBCSports.com that he’s spoken with both guards before.
“I know both of them, actually, and they both know me,” Smith said. “I’ve known them a couple months, like six months. It was around October when I met (Purvis). I haven’t met (Wall) I talk to him a little bit. Texting with him.”
On Friday, Smith matched up with another top-25 guard as his Team Loaded (North Carolina) squad faced recent Arizona commit and 2015 guard Justin Simon.
Smith stuffed the stat sheet in the 73-71 win as he scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and had six blocks and six steals to go along with four assists. If there’s one major fault with Smith’s game — at the moment — it’s his propensity to try too hard to make a flashy pass and it helped lead to four turnovers in the game.
“It’s great; I get to measure myself up against him,” Smith said of facing Simon. “Obviously since he’s already committed he’s going to play at the next level so it’s good to measure my game up to his.”
Although Smith has faced players like Simon and has been compared to Wall and Purvis, thanks to geography, he looks up to a couple of other guards when modeling his game.
“I watch a lot (of basketball),” Smith said. “In the NBA I watch a lot of (Russell) Westbrook and Damian Lillard. In college I watch a lot of Kasey Hill.
“Damian Lillard, he’s really good off the pick-and-roll and he can shoot pretty good. Kasey Hill, he gets his teammates involved pretty well. Westbrook, he’s super explosive and he plays hard every play.”
Recruiting is starting to pick up for Smith and he’s most receptive to hearing from two SEC powerhouses that have yet to get in touch.
“I’ve heard from just about every school except Kentucky and Florida. Those two schools are ones I would be looking forward to hearing from,” Smith said.
Those programs — and others — will have plenty of time to recruit Smith as he’s still very early in the process.
“I probably won’t be making a list until the middle of my junior year,” Smith said.
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