Southern Indiana senior guard Jamar Smith received an invitation to play in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational in April. Smith was selected as one of the 64 college seniors to play in the event, used by professional basketball scouts to analyze players for teams in the NBA and Europe. The tournament is the only postseason event for college seniors prior to the NBA pre-draft camp.
Southern Indiana senior guard Jamar Smith received an invitation to play in the Portsmouth (Va.) Invitational in April.
Smith was selected as one of the 64 college seniors to play in the event, used by professional basketball scouts to analyze players for teams in the NBA and Europe. The tournament is the only postseason event for college seniors prior to the NBA pre-draft camp.
"I'm excited for the opportunity to display my skills and to play with some of the top players in the country,'' said Smith, the former Peoria Richwoods star who played two seasons at Illinois before a transfer to the program in Evansville, where he played two seasons.
A Division II player of the year candidate who was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference player of the year Friday, Smith led the Screaming Eagles to a 24-3 overall record and a 15-3 mark in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. He averaged 21.6 points per game and set school records with 10 3-pointers in a game and 108 3-pointers in a season. He also averaged 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Southern Indiana is ineligible to play in postseason.
"Jamar has the unusual ability to not only create himself a shot but to do the same for all his teammates," said Southern Indiana coach Rodney Watson, who earned coach of the year in the conference. "Jamar is a true combination guard, as he can shoot from every range. He can advance the ball, make the entry pass to initiate the offense and guard the ball on the defensive end. More important he is a far better person than player.''
The exposure in Portsmouth will help Smith in landing a professional contract.
"I'm hoping he can get involved in other events, show well and get a chance,'' Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "I've talked to some agents about him. I'm trying to help him as much as I can.''
Illinois junior center Rich Semrau will leave the program after the season. Semrau, who is in his fourth season with the team, will graduate in communications in May and has already started on a graduate degree. He plans to stay on campus but won't be on athletic scholarship. Semrau will go through senior day ceremonies March 7 before the Illinois-Wisconsin game.
With center Mike Tisdale plus forwards Mike Davis and Tyler Griffey returning next season, Semrau didn't see a chance to work his way into the rotation. Semrau redshirted his first year after surgery to remove an infection in his chest. He also suffered a sprained knee ligament and a foot injury.
"I've been out a lot and had a lot of injuries,'' he said. "I tried to get past that, but it hasn't worked like I wanted.''
The Illini have a scholarship open for next year. Weber and his staff are taking one last look at high school seniors. He's unlikely to take another junior college transfer.
John Supinie can be reached at Johnsupinie@aol.com.