Moving on up

Thornton senior guard Reggie Smith never doubted the high-majors would eventually come around to his ability. He just didn't think they'd begin to do so when he was injured.

Heading into the summer, Smith was a hot commodity among mid-major programs. With his athleticism, ball handling and scoring ability, Smith was a lock to be a combo guard in the MAC, Missouri Valley or elsewhere.

The bigger schools hesitated from going after him because they weren't sold he could pass the ball and play the point. With Smith being only 5-11, they saw him as a risk.

And then this past July, Smith proved otherwise ... while injured.

Just before leaving for the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina in early July, Smith injured his right shooting arm at a tournament in Deerfield, Ill. The injury hampered his shot and forced him to go left more, but Smith stayed on the floor and found a way to still contribute.

"I wasn't playing my best," Smith said. "I couldn't shoot short jumpers. I started being more unselfish, passing."

When Smith and his club team -- the Mac Irvin Fire -- traveled to Las Vegas and Phoenix later in the month, coaches didn't notice his injury.

"I guess they never knew I was hurt," Smith said.

They did see, though, he was fully capable of passing the ball and being a true point guard.

"The one thing he started showing toward the end of the summer was he can manage a team," Fire coach Mike Irvin said. "He's played 2-guard for so long, but he can definitely distribute the ball.

"Reggie, as the summer went on, he really turned into a distributor. I'll go on record as saying if he played point guard for his high school, there would no reason he wouldn't be a top-25 player in the country."

The way he's being recruited now he isn't far off that status. DePaul, Indiana, Marquette, Northwestern, UCLA and USC are all after him. Smith was especially shocked when UCLA and USC offered him scholarships.

"Those are really big schools," Smith said. "OJ [Mayo] went to USC. Everyone went to UCLA. Basketball, that's where it started at. To be looked at and offered by those schools, I was like, 'Man.'"

Smith said his top three choices are Marquette, UCLA and USC, with USC slightly in the lead. He will attend USC's Midnight Madness later this month.

"I'll tell you one thing about Reggie Smith," Irvin said. "When it's all said and done, he's going to make some money playing basketball. His athleticism is off the charts. He's the one who has continually got better every year."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at preps@espnchicago.com.