Every year during the open recruiting periods for college coaches, there are several prospects that elevate their level play. Las Vegas small forward Ray Smith decided to be one of them last month at the Adidas Gauntlet in Dallas.
Already ranked 32nd in the 2015 Rivals150, Smith's played like somebody who won't be satisfied until he gets to the very top of the rankings.
"I've been playing pretty well," Smith said. "I've been to Dallas for the Adidas tournament and then I went to Miami for Adidas Nations. I averaged 14 points per game in Dallas. I ran the floor well, played defense well, had some put backs and a lot rebounds. I just played well all around. I shot it pretty well, too."
Smith's all-around game led to him adding offers from Colorado and Louisville at the end of the open weekend. Earlier this week, Smith decided it was time to trim his long list of schools down to a more manageable number. The schools still under consideration include Arizona, Arizona State, California, Georgetown, Louisville, Oregon, Texas, UCLA, USC and Wake Forest.
Smith mentioned he plans to visit Georgetown, Louisville and UCLA in June but has yet to confirm the dates.
Georgetown's combination of a strong academic reputation along with a long history of success on the basketball court impresses Smith.
"They have a great program. Their tradition is great. They have a great reputation when it comes to academics. I have a great relationship with the coaches there, too."
As a youngster, Smith noticed the success Texas coach Rick Barnes had coaching Kevin Durant during his freshman season, and it's stuck in his mind ever since.
"Coach Barnes had pretty good success with a bigger guard like myself in Kevin Durant even though he was 6-10, and I'm 6-7. They get out and run a little bit, so they fit my playing style."
Arizona has generated a lot of buzz in Smith's recruitment.
"They run a lot and play uptempo. I have a great relationship with Damon Stoudamire. Their fans are crazy. Coach [Sean] Miller is great too."
It didn't take long for Steve Alford to win at a high level in Westwood. He led the Bruins to a conference title in his first season, a fact that isn't lost upon Smith.
"UCLA is taking care of business now. They just won the Pac-12 tournament this year. They run a lot too. It's a great school as far as marketing. It's a great school academically. I have a really good relationship with Coach [David] Grace."
Louisville coach Rick Pitino has long been known for his full court pressure defense, a style that appeals to Smith.
"Rick Pitino is a great coach. That's a great place. They run a lot and will pick up full court on defense. I like pressing and running like that."
The four-star wing says he'll likely make one more cut to his list before making a verbal commitment.
"I'm going to cut my list down again before I commit, but I don't know when I'll do that. It will be a surprise. I'm not sure when I'll commit either, but it will be before my high school season starts. My decision will be based on the school that fits me best as far as playing style and academics."
Dan McDonald is a contributing national basketball recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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