After a confusing week full of hand wringing, Jordan Smith said Wednesday that he has turned down a scholarship offer from Saint Louis and is sticking with his plan to attend the University of Wisconsin and walk on with the men’s basketball team this fall.
The 6-foot-2 shooting guard from Orono, Minn., sounded relieved after he had to re-think his plans to walk-on with the Badgers because Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus called out of the blue last week to offer him a scholarship.
Smith, who went to the same high school as former UW standout Jon Leuer, made a visit to the Saint Louis campus with his family last weekend and he returned home believing he couldn’t turn down a scholarship.
But he said his parents helped him make his decision to stay with Wisconsin when they told him they could afford to pay his tuition.
“I’m fortunate that’s not an issue for my family,” Smith said. “The scholarship wasn’t something I needed. And once I took that out of the equation there was no question where I wanted to go. It was Wisconsin.”
Smith, who averaged 21.5 points while leading Orono to the Minnesota Class AAA title this past season, said he sat down with his parents Tuesday night and they wrote down all the reasons why Wisconsin was the superior choice.
“I didn’t know anything about Saint Louis going into it,” Smith said. “Obviously I had heard of coach (Rick) Majerus but I didn’t even know he was the coach there until a week ago. That’s how much I knew about them.”
Smith said he enjoyed his visit to Saint Louis, but “something didn’t feel right about it so I decided to go to Wisconsin.”
Two weeks ago, Smith, who is an excellent student who got a 30 on ACTs, was content with his decision to attend the UW, major in business and walk on to the men’s basketball team and hopefully work his way into earning a scholarship.
But all of a sudden Butler coach Brad Stevens called and asked him to think about joining the Bulldogs. Penn State coach Ed DeChellis called, too. But he wasn’t offered a scholarship until Saint Louis called.
Smith said Saint Louis learned about him through Leuer. He added that his name came up after former UW walk-on guard Tanner Bronson, who works in the video department for the Saint Louis program, was talking to Leuer about how the Billikens needed a shooting guard.
He said Bronson told him he wouldn’t trade his time at Wisconsin for anything in the world.
But the Orono guard added that the current UW players, especially fellow Minnesotans Jordan Taylor, Mike Bruesewitz and Jared Berggren, are what sold him on the Badgers.
“I already have a relationship with some of those guys,” Smith added. “Coming into any new situation, it’s good if you have people you already know who will have your back.”