It's hard to follow basketball in Chicago and not hear the name Robert Smith. Smith is the head coach at Simeon Academy, the city's premier high school basketball program. Smith coached Derrick Rose before he went off to star at Memphis and currently Smith coaches the top-ranked high school junior in the country, forward Jabari Parker.
Every team in America is after Parker's services, and that includes the Illinois Fighting Illini, who fired head coach Bruce Weber this morning. Smith wants his shot to be called up to the next level, according to Scott Powers of ESPN Chicago.
"One thing they haven’t done is keep the top players at home," Smith said. "People say it’s very hard. I think it’s not very hard if you have a plan. I’ve developed relationships with the players and parents. My track record proves what I can do at a program and where I can put it."
The list of local recruits that the Illini missed over Weber's reign is excruciatingly long, highlighted by Rose, former Duke star Jon Scheyer, and Homewood-Flossmoor High School product and former Kansas Jayhawk Julian Wright.
Smith believes he could bring Parker to Champaign if he is hired as head coach of the Illini.
"I think my chances would be good," Smith said. "I think they would be better than any coach in America simply because of the relationship I have with Jabari and his family. What I’ve learned about them is it’s about trust and relationships. It’s not about how many national championships and games you’ve won. It’s about trust with their son. Our trust is very high."
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