After a tremendous senior season in which he was named the Catholic League Player of the Year, Fenwick senior point guard Mike Smith committed to Columbia on Tuesday.
The 5-foot-9 Smith is headed to the Ivy League after averaging 19 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals per game for the Friars. Behind Smith's senior leadership and a balanced attack, Fenwick was regular season and conference tournament champions of the Catholic League during the season.
"It's an opportunity of a lifetime," Smith said to CSN. "Not only do I get a premier education, I get to go somewhere like Fenwick all over again where basketball is on the rise and I can help put it on the map."
Shooting 43 percent from 3-point range and 82 percent from the free-throw line, Smith was one of the area's most consistent shooters this season and he seemed to play his best games against top competition. Smith had 38 points in a win over Simeon this season and also had 32 in a win over Riverside-Brookfield.
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Smith told CSN that he felt comfortable with his future at Columbia and that he's happy to be in the Ivy League.
"From the head coach all the way down to the grad assistant I felt like I was wanted and I felt like with these coaches we can make history," Smith said. "I just feel like the Ivy League is becoming a much better conference and I want to be a part of that. When I visited it felt like I was at home and it was the best place for me. That's why I chose Columbia over the other schools."
When the CSN All-Area team is unveiled this week, Smith will find himself on the list as he was one of the state's best players this season. Smith finished second in voting for Mr. Basketball of Illinois.
It didn't take very long for Oak Lawn Richards three star ranked junior RB LeShon Williams (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) to give the Iowa Hawkeyes his verbal commitment. Williams, who added a scholarship offer from Iowa yesterday decided this afternoon to commit to the Hawkeyes and announced his college decision via his Twitter account.
"For me it was really all about the tradition and the culture (at Iowa)," according to Williams. "It's always been a dram of mine to play in the Big 10 conference, so why not play for Iowa and get to play again with one of my old teammates."
Williams, who is holding 16 scholarship offers this spring will join former Richards quarterback/safety Sebastian Castro who is part of the Class of 2019 for the Hawkeyes. Williams is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Iowa Class of 2020 and is also the third known State of Illinois pledge for Iowa. Williams joins Byron three star ranked OL Tyler Elsbury along with Lena-Winslow three star ranked defensive end Isaiah Bruce as Land of Lincoln commitments.
Nazareth Academy sophomore quarterback JJ McCarthy (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), who had an All State season in 2018 leading the Roadrunners to the Class 7A state title decided to give the Michigan Wolverines his verbal commitment today while making a return unofficial visit to the Ann Arbor, Michigan, campus.
“I have a list of all the things I need to check off before I make my decision,” McCarthy told Rivals.com's Midwest Recruiting Expert Josh Helmholdt. “It’s a literal piece of paper I have at home, and Michigan checked every single one of those boxes.”
Among the various factors for McCarthy in deciding upon Michigan included location, academics along with preparing him for the next level of football.
“With all the NFL ties Michigan has, especially quarterback-wise with coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (Ben) McDaniels, it’s really a no-brainer for me,” McCarthy said. “When I hear ‘Michigan,’ I think of Tom Brady. He’s the greatest of all time and he’s an alum… at my position too.”
McCarthy, who was already holding over 30 verbal scholarship offers including offers from multiple Power 5 programs is the second known verbal commitment in the Michigan Wolverines Class of 2021 joining Stevenson Sterling Heights (Mich.) ranked offensive tackle Giovanni El Hadi.
McCarthy is now the fourth known verbal commitment from the state of Illinois Class of 2021, joining Antioch sophomore QB Athan Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and his brother Dino Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and Naperville Central sophomore QB/ATH Sam Jackson (Minnesota).