Illini sign top 100 recruit

By Derek Barichello

This year head coach Theresa Grentz made it short – but sweet.

Last season Grentz announced a Top 25 recruiting class consisting of six freshmen, but on Wednesday she announced only one.

Minnesota prep star Jenna Smith signed a letter of intent to play for the women’s basketball team.

Smith, who is a standout at Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minn., is the 69th-ranked player in the nation by Blue Star Report. She is considered by many as the frontrunner for Ms. Basketball in Minnesota.

“We are delighted to have Jenna join our Illini family,” Grentz said. “At 6-3, Jenna gives us the true back-to-the-basket post presence that is so important for success in the Big Ten.”

Smith is rated the 24th-best high school center by All-Girls Report.

She averaged 20.8 points and 8.6 rebounds as a junior in 2004-05 while leading her high school to the Minnesota Class AAAA State Championship and a 28-2 record.

In the title game, Smith had a team-high 20 points and 14 rebounds and earned All-Tournament status. She was also named first team All-State, All-Metro and All-Lake Conference as a junior.

“Jenna can do a little bit of everything,” Grentz said. “She has tremendous touch around the basket but is just as comfortable scoring from the high-post area.”

Smith has also been active in several other sports. She plays soccer, runs track and has played on a softball traveling team.

“Her soccer background has definitely been an asset to her overall footwork, and she is a capable defender,” Grentz said. “Jenna knows what it takes to be a champion, and she is ready and willing to win championships for the Illini.”

Smith chose Illinois over Minnesota, Iowa, Iowa State and Nebraska.