High School: Shaka Smart

AAU coach defends Chicago recruiting

March, 23, 2012
3/23/12
2:36
PM CT
One of Chicago’s most powerful club high school coaches said Friday he doesn’t believe Shaka Smart turned down Illinois’ offer because of his reluctance to deal with Chicago recruiting and believes the perception of the city’s recruiting is wrong.

Mike Irvin runs one of Chicago’s most recruited club programs, the Mac Irvin Fire. Its recent players include McDonald’s All-Americans Wayne Blackshear and Jereme Richmond, Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard and Ohio State freshman Sam Thompson. The Fire’s current roster includes the nation’s No.1 junior Jabari Parker and No. 2 sophomore Jahlil Okafor.

According to sourced reports, Smart was turned off by the politics of Chicago recruiting, and that played a factor in his decision to reject Illinois’ offer. Irvin said Smart has recruited Chicago before and doesn’t believe that soured Smart on the Illinois job.

“Shaka knows he can come in and recruit kids from here,” said Irvin, who took over the program for his recently deceased father Mac Irvin. “When Shaka was (an assistant) at Florida, all of our guys had Florida on their list. I didn’t even know who Shaka was before, and he called me 90 times before he got a hold of me. He knows he can come in here.”

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