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Everyone knows Nick Smith as the tallest person in Illinois’s storied basketball history, but few know him for his game he brings every night. At 7’2 and 245 lbs, Smith is very tall and lanky. He played his high school ball in Florida where he was recruited by Bill Self because of his great height and potential. In high school Smith was the man and put up big numbers, however those numbers haven’t transferred yet into the college ranks for him. Part of the reason is that Smith was a project when he first came to the Illini. He weighed in at a meager 220 lbs, but since then has worked hard to gain 25 lbs and gain a starting spot.

Nick Smith for 3, clank, way off….It makes Illini fans grimace when Smith is out chucking long shots rather then being inside, but then again sometimes it’s good thing. During Smith’s freshman year, he would often settle for a jumper rather than banging inside but he has developed. This year, we’ve seen something out of Smith that we haven’t seen, post moves. He has worked hard to develop a post game, while it’s still weak, it’s getting better every game and he’s starting to do what the Illini need him to be, to be a presence down low. He’s done a good job of keeping the ball high while down low, where opponents have to hack him to get to it. Smith also has a smooth stroke from the free throw line and actually led the Illini in FT% last year and again is shooting great this year from the charity stripe.

On the defensive end, you would think that Smith would be a monster, but if you look at the stats, you have to think a 7’2 guy only getting 0.6 bpg? While he may not block a lot of shots, just by clogging up the lane, Smith changes shots. If there was a stat for altering shots, Smith would be #1 for the Illini. He’s not a real good jumper, but by just putting his hands up, he has the ability to block a lot of shots. Another thing that hurts Smith is his quickness. He isn’t quick with his actions anywhere on the court and this is an area where he definitely needs work.

This summer, I received the opportunity to talk to Smith while down at the University of Illinois. Smith, who has a really deep voice, is very intelligent and knows his role on the Illini. When I was talking to him, he joked around a lot and was pretty laid back and easy going. He towered over everyone around and really stood out of the crowd. Smith, with his immense height, is an asset to the Illini that is finally starting to pay off through hard work and hours in the weight room. While there’s still room for improvement, Smith is right on track for where he needs to be.
 

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Great post.. Nick has been coming up huge.. Guess he's tired of all that tallest player in Illini history talk (Since he wasnt doing anything).. Kinda glad he's doing something finally for the team..
 

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as much as most illini fans rip smith, this team wouldnt be near as good with out him
 
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