Mark Smith, former Illini and Mr. Basketball winner, to transfer to Missouri

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Former Illinois guard Mark Smith will transfer to Missouri, he announced Saturday night on Twitter.

Smith committed to Illinois one year ago with great expectations but left the program after a disappointing freshman year under first-year coach Brad Underwood.

The 6-foot-4 guard finished the season with averages of 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game while shooting 33.7 percent from the field and 23.2 percent on 3-pointers. In Big Ten play, he averaged 3.1 points while shooting 28.6 percent overall and 18.5 percent from 3. He started 19 of 31 games, averaging 19.1 minutes overall and 16.4 in Big Ten games.

In Illinois’ 70-64 win against Missouri on Dec. 23, Smith scored 11 points in 25 minutes. He scored 21 points in a win against DePaul and 17 in a loss to UNLV but did not score more than eight points against a Big Ten opponent.

Smith was named Mr. Basketball of Illinois for 2017 as a senior at Edwardsville, then went through a whirlwind recruitment that included the likes of Michigan State, Duke and Kentucky before choosing Illinois on April 26, 2017.

Smith had committed to Missouri as a baseball pitcher, but an arm injury forced him to switch his focus to basketball. Going into his senior year, he held basketball offers from Northern Illinois, Indiana State and Wright State before his performance garnered attention from major programs.

Smith will sit out next season under NCAA rules before becoming eligible in 2019-20. He was the first Mr. Basketball winner to commit to Illinois since Jereme Richmond in 2010. Richmond also left the Illini after one season.

wlarkin@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @Larkin_Will

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