Nick Smith Jr. was one of two guards to receive a scholarship from Kentucky this summer, with the five-star prospect out of Sherwood, AR joining Cason Wallace to earn an offer the final weekend of Peach Jam. Shortly after picking up the offer, the 6-foot-4 combo guard scheduled an official visit to UK, with the trip penciled in for September 2.
Smith openly pushed for a scholarship offer from the program this spring and wanted the staff to ramp up contact. When those things finally came, many expected Kentucky to jump to the top of the five-star prospect’s list and momentum to shift in the Wildcats’ favor shortly after.
Instead, Smith admitted that while it’s a blessing to receive any offer and he’s grateful for the opportunity, the big moment with Kentucky felt like “any other school” he’s earned a scholarship from.
“Honestly, I thought I’d feel some type of way about it, but it just felt like it was any other school,” Smith told On3’s Joe Tipton. “It’s always a blessing to be recruited by any school. It was just cool to get another offer on the table and have another option.”
To take that message a step further, Smith added that just because Kentucky is a blue blood program doesn’t mean it will be the best fit for him when it comes time for a decision. At the end of the day, he values loyalty.
“I’m a loyal dude. If you’ve been recruiting me for a while… I’m gonna still rock with you,” said Smith. “Just because they’re Kentucky… doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for me. If it’s the best fit, I’m gonna go to Kentucky. If I feel like Oklahoma is the best fit and a better opportunity, then I’m gonna go there. If I feel the NBL is the better opportunity, then I’ll go there. I don’t really look at the name on the chest. I just look at the scenario I’m gonna be in when I’m in college.”
Smith recently cut his list to eight final options, with Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, the NBL and Overtime Elite remaining in contention. The five-star guard also held offers from Georgetown, Florida, Memphis, North Carolina, Oregon and Texas, among others,
The UK target told On3 that his offer from Overtime Elite is worth $500,000 over two years, while the NBL is offering a deal worth $450,000 for one year.
As for his other collegiate options, check out some of his quotes for each school below:
– Alabama – “Alabama was my first visit, so I didn’t really know what to expect. But as soon as my family touched down, I got nothing but love from them. Just sitting down with Coach (Nate) Oats, and the players… I got to see how he treated his players. And the environment, in terms of them getting players to the pros. It was a good experience for me and my family.
“They like to get up and down. They play great defense. Coach Oats is a very intense guy. He’s going to let you hoop but you also have to be very good on the defensive end. How I would fit in would be my energy… just bringing my energy to that group. I feel like it would help me and help the team.”
– Auburn – “Bruce Pearl, the way he treats his players, the way he talks to his players and his coaching staff, it was something I had to look at. Their style of play would help me get to the pros. Wes Flanigan coaches there. He’s like my uncle. Not blood, just close. It’s just something I had to look into. He’s very loyal to his players as well.”
– Kansas – “That was a great experience just to sit down with head coach Bill Self. He wants me to come in and be there for one year. And if you look at Kansas’ history, that’s not really normal. So, he believes I can come in for one year and he wants me to be the focal point of their program.”
– Arkansas – “Coach Muss (Eric Musselman) has a pro vibe to him. Obviously he’s been a coach in the league. His dad coached in the league, too. His coaching staff has been in the league, also. Their program and the way they play and just the way he runs stuff over there… it’s just a real, true NBA vibe.”
– Oklahoma – “Porter Moser, as soon as he got the job, he called and offered me on the spot. He wants me to come in and be the focal point and be the number one option for him. Coach DP (David Patrick) was at Arkansas the previous year and it made sense for me to look at the situation because I already had a relationship with Coach DP.”
A commitment date is scheduled for Nov. 20, though Smith says an announcement could come earlier.