Rose backs Smith for Illinois assistant job

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose put his support Friday behind his former high school coach, Simeon’s Robert Smith, to be hired as an Illinois assistant.

“I think he would be great as an assistant,” said Rose, who won two state championships at Simeon under Smith. “I think on the high school level he did everything possible -- win championships, state championships. It would be great for him to go onto the college level and see what he can do then.”

Smith has said he would listen if Illinois coach John Groce, who was hired on Thursday, contacted him about a position on the Illini’s staff.

Smith has compiled a 230-37 record, won five state titles and had one runner-up finish in eight years at Simeon. His current players include the nation’s No. 1 junior Jabari Parker, top-50 junior Kendrick Nunn and Marquette recruit Steve Taylor.

Rose didn’t attend Illinois, choosing to go to Memphis for one season, but he was hopeful the Illini would return to the high level of success they had when making a run to the 2005 NCAA tournament title game.

“Illinois, we haven’t had that great feeling here in a long time since that run they had with Dee Brown and (Deron) D-Williams and them,” Rose said. “I know everybody is dying and waiting for that one team to bring us back.”