|Devonte Smith and Maurius Hill|
It appears UALR will sign two players during Wednesday’s opening of the NCAA’s Spring Signing Period for National Letters of Intent.
UALR has two commitments at this point. The first came from high school power forward Maurius Hill, who played at Homewood-Flossmoor in Chicago. The second came from junior college point guard Devonte Smith.
Hill has the potential to add a dimension to the UALR lineup that wasn’t available last season. The 6-5 power forward averaged about 13 points and nearly 10 rebounds.
It could allow UALR to utilize senior forward Will Neighbour more like it did during the 2011-2012 season when he played quite a bit at the 3 on offense and 4 on defense. That year, Courtney Jackson had the quickness to guard a 3 and the ability to drive to the basket as a 4.
Hill is a slashing scorer and tough rebounder who showed the ability to guard much bigger players.
“This was my choice because I really enjoyed the campus down there, some of the players, and the coaching staff. They have a nice style of play and I could be seeing good minutes as a freshman,” Hill told Website Chicago Hoops.
Smith’s arrival brings both experience and depth to UALR at point guard. The 5-11 guard from Oklahoma City, averaged 7 points and 5.5 assists this season for South Plains. As a freshman, he was the point guard as South Plains, featuring future Ole Miss sharpshooter Marshall Henderson, went 36-0 and won the junior college national championship.
While more of a traditional point guard (he had 13 assists and just 1 turnover in a victory over New Mexico Military Institute), Smith can also provide scoring. He had 26 points (with 6 rebounds and 5 assists) in a victory over New Mexico Junior College.
His commitment was made official via Yahoo!/Rivals last week.
Out of high school, ESPN’s recruiting expert Dave Telep described him as a “high octane, creator, and facilitator type.”
UALR is scheduled to return sophomore point guards Josh Hagins and John Gillon. However, Gillon showed last season he was more than capable of playing at the shooting guard position. Some of UALR’s best minutes last year came with Hagins at the point and Gillon at the 2.
The spring signing period lasts for a month.
It remains unclear how the roster will shape up for the 2013-2014 season. UALR had no scholarship seniors last season. The signings of Hill and Smith will put the Trojans two over the NCAA mandated limit of 13 scholarship players. One area of concern remains the health of junior guard Taggart Lockhart, whose season ended early due to concussions. UALR has not provided a medical update on Lockhart since the season’s end.