Andy Kennedy was emphatic earlier this week about how much The Pavilion would help recruiting, and it didn't take long for Ole Miss hoops to start reaping the rewards of the state-of-the-art new arena. Four-star forward Jatrious Smith, ranked the No. 80 player in the country by ESPN, has verbally committed to the Rebs. Smith becomes the first member of the 2017 class.
"I'll tell you how excited I am," a giddy AK said earlier this week when asked about how the new digs will affect crootin. "We'll have more recruits [at the games] on Thursday and Saturday than we've had maybe since I've been here. That is not by accident. That is by design."
"It gives us an opportunity now to say, 'OK, what's the excuse now?' We've got everything you need to be successful and it puts us in the game."
The cramped, dark and leaky Tad Pad wasn't exactly a selling point when prospects showed up on campus. Hell, AK said they tried to avoid the place altogether.
"Honestly, we didn't bring many guys in there ... We didn't go in there a lot, talk about it a lot. Since we've had the Tuohy Center... that's kind of where we stayed and we talked about this is where you're gonna be day-in, day-out. We're gonna go over there to play the games and it doesn't really matter where you play the games. That's the approach we took ... That conversation will change now."
I want to thank everyone who has led me to this point now I can say Ive committed to Ole miss I'm now a Rebel pic.twitter.com/sSNcA6ipmg— the5show (@jatrioussmith) January 10, 2016
How Smith fits in
A 6'4, 200-pound native of Florida who currently plays prep ball in Georgia, Smith also received offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and drawn interest form Georgetown, Maryland, N.C. State and Wake Forest. Ranked the No. 80 player in his class, he's averaged 13 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game for 6A Pebblebrook.
Smith's combination of athleticism and size jumps out on film. When I take a look at J.J., I see Terrico White in Murphy Holloway's body. He possesses that same raw ability that Terrico had off the dribble as well as the power in the paint to absorb contact and finish that Murph had. Smith has great handles and can blow past a defender and be at the rim in two steps.
He can also be an asset when he's not shooting. He has a scorer's mentality when driving to the hoop but also excellent vision to find teammates. Jatrious should add elite athleticism to Ole Miss' backcourt, which already has Donte Fitzpatrick-Dorsey, Terence Davis and incoming 2016 commit Breein Tyree.
Here's his film: