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Hoops recruit Mark Smith opts for Illinois over MSU

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

For the second straight day, Michigan State missed out on one of its final targets for the 2017 recruiting class.

Four-star guard Mark Smith of Edwardsville, Ill., announced Wednesday he will attend Illinois.

Four-star guard Mark Smith of Edwardsville, Ill., announced on Wednesday night that he was committing to Illinois, choosing the Fighting Illini over the likes of Michigan State and Ohio State while schools like Kentucky, Duke and Missouri had been showing late interest.

“I want to make my state proud,” Smith said. “(Illinois) had everything I was looking for – a world-class academic reputation, a passionate fan base, a great history and tradition and a style of play that is exciting and offers me the opportunity to be the start of something big, leave my mark and take on of the best college programs to the top again.”

The 6-foot-5 guard saw his stock soar after a senior season in which he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds a game while earning Mr. Basketball honors in Illinois.

The announcement came less than 24 hours after 6-11 Brandon McCoy of San Diego committed to UNLV after including Michigan State among his finalists along with Arizona, Oregon and San Diego State.

Michigan State has signed two players for next season – 6-10 All-American forward Jaren Jackson Jr. of La Lumiere in Indiana and 6-8 center Xavier Tillman, the runner-up for Mr. Basketball from Grand Rapids Christian.

That leaves guard Brian Bowen as Michigan State’s final recruiting target for this year’s class. Bowen, a 6-7 guard and teammate of Jackson’s at La Lumiere, is another five-star All-American and has said he intends to make his decision by the end of the month.

Bowen is also considering Arizona, Creighton, N.C. State and Texas.

The Spartans have one open scholarship for next season with another still up in the air as they await on a decision from the NCAA on Ben Carter’s request for a sixth season of eligibility.