Indiana Basketball: Justin Smith chooses Hoosiers over Villanova

Justin Smith is Indiana basketball’s second commitment in the class of 2017.

The Indiana Hoosiers enter the 2016-17 season with a solid opportunity to defend their Big Ten regular season championship. But in order to ensure their success beyond this upcoming year, head coach Tom Crean must continue to pull strings on the recruiting trail.

And Crean did just that with 2017 small forward Justin Smith, who committed to the Hoosiers on Monday over the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats.

The 6’7″, 215 pound Buffalo Grove, Ill native is labeled as a four-star recruit and is ranked 80th in ESPN’s top 100. Smith is the 5th best player in the state of Illinois in the class of 2017 and is the 18th best player at his position.

Smith’s best attributes are his athleticism and versatility. The youngster is capable of playing both forward positions and can guard all five positions on the defensive end. He is a high IQ player, is an excellent leader and brings many intangibles to the table.

With added toughness and a more consistent outside shot, Smith can become a dynamic force within the Big Ten Conference for years to come.

The Hoosiers needed to add a forward as OG Anunoby could dash for the 2017 NBA Draft following this upcoming season and Collin Hartman is graduating in May. Freddie McSwain Jr. and Juwan Morgan will still be in the fold, but McSwain will be a senior in 2017-18 and it’s unknown as to how Morgan would deal with a greater role.

Because Indiana has struggled in recent years on the defensive end, Smith’s defensive intensity will be greatly welcomed to Bloomington.

The Adlai E. Stevenson High School talent joins 6’4″ four-star shooting guard Aljami Durham in the Hoosiers class of 2017. Indiana is currently one over the scholarship limit, but with Thomas Bryant likely to enter the 2017 NBA Draft as a possible lottery pick and Anunoby and James Blackmon Jr. potentially following, there could be open space to add another transfer or recruit.

Crean has been a punching bag for Hoosier fans in recent years, but not only are the Hoosiers having success on the floor, but they are doing damage in terms of adding the future faces of the program.