In the April evaluation period, it's all about shining at the right place at the right time. For 16 minutes in Arkansas, Chicago point guard Darius Smith picked the right time to put himself onto the national map.
At the Real Deal on the Hill, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard from Marshall High School in Chicago stepped up in a reserve role and helped his Illinois Warriors team win an all-important game. His play helped spark his team's success and his own recruitment.
Smith showed off several facets of his game in that short period of time and only seemed to get better after that for the rest of the month.
Smith seemed to be the missing link in the backcourt for the Warriors and his play can be attributed to the Warriors' run to the title game in Fayetteville and continued success in Akron at the King James event.
"I think I played well. I like to say I played really well and took advantage of the exposure part in front of all of the coaches," Smith said. "I really think I got out there in the spotlight last month. I think I played well, played really well. I take full responsibility of taking advantage of [April]. I knew all I could do was control what I can control. That's why I wanted to play as good as I could."
His play paired with the strong play of Illinois-bound guard D.J. Richardson was fun to watch for any basketball purist. As Smith played well, Richardson played well and vice versa. The result was the Warriors playing well.
"For me and D.J., this is our first year playing together but we've always seen each other play before," Smith said. "Now I'm a better player with him. We motivate each other on and off the court."
Smith's recruitment has taken on a new look after a strong April. He said he is feeling the aftermath of playing strong now that the dust has settled.
"My phone is blowing off the hook," Smith said from his father's phone. The battery on his cell phone died because of frequent usage. "I have a lot of people coming up to the school. Coaches are all calling me, calling my dad, calling my high school coach. It's been a great month for me…I felt like I belonged."
Smith said he has heard from Nebraska, Kent State, Baylor, Bradley (offer), Loyola (offer), Valparaiso, Wyoming, Illinois State, Indiana, Clemson and others.
"I don't want to leave anyone out," Smith said. "[Recruiting] has picked up a whole lot.
"I'm trying to see what schools have what guards right now. As the schools come in, me and my dad and my coach are looking at the teams really close and seeing what guards they have and what guards they have coming in and what style they play."