- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy coach Robert Smith said he would consider an Illinois assistant position under new Illini coach John Groce if he felt it was the right fit.
Smith previously said he was only interested in being the Illini’s head coach. An Illinois representative reached out to Smith during its head coaching search, which concluded Wednesday when former Ohio coach Groce was hired.
“I’ll listen,” Smith said of an assistant position. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It would definitely have to be a role I like. You have to still understand I have a family with two young kids and would have to think about getting up and relocating. It’s something I would have to think about.
“I don’t know (Groce.) You got to be able to have a relationship with him and be able to work for him. I do have a good job already, too. My job might be the best in the state.”
Smith won an Illinois high school state-record fifth state championship on March 7. He has compiled a 230-37 record, won five state titles and one second-place finish in eight years at Simeon. His current players include the nation’s No. 1 junior Jabari Parker, Kendrick Nunn, who was previously committed to Texas A&M, and Marquette recruit Steve Taylor.
Smith was pleased Illinois contacted him during its coaching search.
“Just out of respect, I thought it was something they were supposed to do,” Smith said. “No one will know the real truth of it whether it was for real or a courteous call. But it let me know I was doing something good, and they at least thought about it. It may open other doors in the near future.”
Smith was also still hopeful to be a Division I head coach down the line.
“It definitely gave me a taste in my mouth,” said Smith, who graduated from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and is also Simeon’s dean of students. “That they even considered me was huge. I knew it was a long shot for sure. I’ll continue to get ready for it.”