By Joe Henricksen
Former Marshall star Darius Smith, who signed with Connecticut out of high school and played this past season at College of Southern Idaho Junior College, is heading back home. The 6-2 combo guard signed with coach Mike Miller and Eastern Illinois on Tuesday.
Smith, who was an all-stater and among the top five prospects in Illinois in the Class of 2009, filled a stat sheet at CSI this past season, averaging 8.5 points, 5.3 assists, 5.1 rebounds and nearly 4 steals a game. In addition, Smith continued to build on his reputation as a winner as he helped lead College of Southern Idaho to the NJCAA National Championship this past season.
While at Marshall, Smith was part of an impressive four-year run, which included a 31-win state championship season his junior year. As a four-year varsity starter, Smith helped lead the Commandos to 103 victories. A first-team Hoops Report All-Stater in 2009, Smith averaged 23 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds and 6 steals a game his senior year.
“He has a will to win and has been a winner throughout his career,” said Eastern Illinois coach Barron Thelmon, who was the lead recruiter for Smith. “Darius is a leader, will go extremely hard for you and has a chance to do some great things for us.”
While Smith isn’t a pure point guard or a sweet-shooting 2-guard, he’s a basketball player who has always found a way to make an impact in a variety of ways.
Smith joins a spring recruiting class that added Champaign Centennial’s Josh Piper a week ago. The 6-8 Piper, who helped lead Centennial to a state title as a sophomore and a fourth-place finish as a junior, averaged 19 points and 10.4 rebounds a game as a senior.